| Thursday, January 20, 2005
| MAYBE A TARANTULA BITE CAN DO MORE GOOD THAN HARM
|Arachnid's venom has element that may ease
And you thought Tarantula venom was a bad thing.
Not always, according, to researchers who have isolated
a substance in a spider's venom that could lead to drug
treatments for conditions as diverse as muscular dysthrophy,
urinary incontincence and cardiac arrhythmias.
Scientists at the University of Buffalo have shown that a
natural compound called GsMtx4 found in the venom can block
channels through the membrane walls of cells. Speciafically,
it blocks channels that are opened by a stretching in the
surface of cell membranes. These "strecth-sensivtive" channels
are an unusual part of cell biology.
Fred Sachs, professor at the university's Center for Single
Molecule Biophysics and his reaearch team discovered recently
that the mirror image of GsMTx4 can pervent a cell from undergoing
After exprimenting with venom from scorpions, centipedes and
spiders, Sachs said the research team found through "pure luck"
that the compound in the venom of the Chilean Rose Tarantual
worked to numb these mechanical senses in cells - the same
effect that an anetsthetic has on the body.
Study used harmless subjects
The large Chilean Rose tarantula used in Sach's research are
about 6 inches across. They are harmless, he said and are sold
in America as pets. The rare bite that someone might get from
one fells like a bee sting, he said.
"Nature doesn't give up its secrets very easily," Sachs said.
She's a rather private individual and to keep asking these
questions is an ongoing challenge to no end".
The scientist made a singificant advance toward treating muscular
dysthrophy and other conditions when researchers Thomas Suchyna
and Philip Gottlieb synthesized a "mirror image" version of
GsMTx4 that, unlike the original version, may alleviate the
hazardous stretch responses and be indigestible by the body.
Proving it will work as a drug is still a few years off, but
the results are promising, Sachs said. The notion of using
"spider spit" to benefit mankind shows "how basic research,
that does'nt appear to have any practical application, can
often provide the most unexpected results," he said.
(abstracted from CHICTRIB/Gannett News Service by: Justin Dickerson)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 8:05 AM