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Viagra compared to spider’s bite

Published : Thursday March 17, 2011 | Posted in : News

The bite of a particular arachnoid known as the Brazilian wandering spider may help men overcome erectile dysfunction, MSNBC news reported yesterday.

Also known as the banana spider, the eight-legged creature has venom with a very rich mixture of several molecules, says Dr. Kenia Nunes, physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia. "These molecules are called toxins, and then we have various toxins in this venom with different activity," the specialist said.

"Because of this, when a human is bitten by this spider, we can observe many different symptoms including priapism, a condition in which the penis is continually erect."

As well as the hours-long and painful erection, the banana spider's bite can also cause loss of muscle control, severe pain, difficulty breathing and even death due to oxygen deprivation.

However, deaths from the spider are rare. According to a specialist website, there have been only ten known deaths from banana spider bites, despite more than 7,000 cases of human bites from the creature.

Dr Nunes and colleagues have studied the effect of the venom on rats, and found that it had a comparable impact to Viagra. "We found the toxin responsible and performed experiments using hypertensive rats which have severe erectile dysfunction. The toxin was able to normalize the erectile function in these animals."

Because some patients do not respond to conventional erectile dysfunction treatments, this could present a potential alternative therapy, Nunes believes. More tests will have to be carried out on the Brazilian wandering spider's venom before such a treatment would be seriously considered.

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