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Health Line

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Tarantula poison can save lives

A LARGE, hairy South American tarantula spider's poison could one day save the lives of people suffering heart attacks and brain tumours, a US researcher has said.

A chemical extracted from the spider's venom has been found to block a basic mechanism in cells important to a wide range of biological functions.

The poison came from a particularly large species of Chilean spider called the Chile rose, according to chief researcher, Frederick Sachs, from the University of Buffalo in New York State. "The venom of two or three spiders had some effect. One was a tarantula known as Chile rose. It was a good choice because it is a big spider that produces large amounts of venom."

Tests showed that a component in the venom blocked the action of ion channels - pores in the membrane around cells through which electrically charged particles travel.

 The pores, called 'stretch-activated channels' because stretching the cell membrane causes them to open and close, have been implicated in functions as diverse as touch and hearing, muscle contraction and co-ordination. and regulating blood pressure and volume. This was the first time a substance that specifically blocked stretch-activated channels had been identified. Sachs said that the discovery bad a number of potential clinical applications.

As reported in The Business Line News Service

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