Mar 22, 2017 04:00 AM EDT

Spider Venom Looks Promising In Treating Brain Damage Caused By Stroke

The Australian funnel-web spider has one of the most deadly venoms in the world. However, a study finds a specific peptide that could help treat stroke victims.

The venom of the Australian funnel-web spider contains a particular peptide that could help reduce brain damage among stroke patients, as reported by New Atlas. The results of preclinical trials on rats look promising, the report said.

The research team from the University of Queensland discovered that the peptide found in the venom of the said spider could block the pathway that sends pain signals to the brain. The team's leader, Professor Glenn King, explained that the small protein is called Hi1a, which blocks acid-sensing ion channels that cause brain damage after stroke.

The study on rats showed that brain damage was reduced by 80 percent when Hi1a was administered two hours after the stroke. When given eight hours after the stroke, the compound reduced brain damage by 65%.

Stroke is the second largest cause of death around the world, next to heart attacks, The Guardian reported. Each year, there are about six million people that die of stroke. A stroke happens when the supply of oxygen to the brain is interrupted. When that occurs, the brain shifts to a process that keeps the brain working but at the same time produces acid that causes damage.

The discovery of the medical benefits of the venom could bring new opportunities in administering treatments to stroke victims and avoiding brain damage, the publication noted. However, there is still much improvement needed to fast track the research and address the limitations. Primarily, the team needs funding to do further studies.

"We welcome any treatment that has the potential to reduce the damage caused by stroke, particularly if this can benefit people who are unable to arrive at hospital quickly," Kate Holmes at the Stroke Association told The Guardian. "Current treatments must be given in half this time period and it is too early for us to know if this research can offer an alternative for stroke patients.

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