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Spider Venom -- The Next Way to Treat Impotence?
Date:9/25/2009

Toxin from the deadly Brazilian wandering spider may improve erections, researchers say

FRIDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists may have discovered a novel way to treat erectile dysfunction -- using the venom of a deadly spider.

The bite from the Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria nigriventer) causes a painful erection that can last for many hours and later lead to impotence, researchers from the United States and Brazil noted.

After isolating the toxin, the researchers radioactively labeled and injected a purified form of the toxin, Tx2-6, into rats that suffered from high blood pressure and severe erectile dysfunction. The investigators then measured the presence of the toxin in the animals' penises and used the toxin to contract and relax strips of penile tissue. Results showed improved levels of nitric oxide, which led to penile relaxation and erections.

The researchers were scheduled to present their work Sept. 24 at the American Heart Association's conference on high blood pressure research in Chicago.

"In Brazil, it's common to have accidents with poisonous animals," explained lead researcher Kenia Pedrosa Nunes, a post-doctoral fellow in physiology at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and a native of Brazil. "So, we were aware of this spider's venom. The toxin was able to normalize erections [in rats]."

Brazilian wandering spiders are found throughout Central and South America. They are considered the world's most venomous spider, causing an unknown number of human deaths.

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, has many causes and a growing body of treatments. According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC), erectile dysfunction "can be a total inability to achieve erection, an inconsistent ability to do so, or a tendency to sustain only brief erections." The condition affects as many as 30 million American
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