A peptide in the venom of the Brazilian wandering spider may be the next Viagra. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/João Burini /Wikipedia)

Males with erectile dysfunction are often willing to try any treatment, regardless of the creepiness factor. According to the Daily Mail, the secret to priapism now runs on eight hairy legs. Scientists at the Medical College of Georgia believe that the venom of the Brazilian wandering spider (aka banana spider and Phoneutria nigriventer) holds the key to eliminating erectile dysfunction.

Spider bite can cause four-hour erection

One of the side effects on humans of the bite of the nomadic Brazilian wandering spider is four-hour long erections. Dr. Kenia Nunes, a physiologist at the college, told the Daily Mail that the venom of Phoneutria nigriventer contains “a very rich mixture of several toxins” that lead to priapism, a condition that causes the penis to stay erect for hours.

That specific effect is not desirable because it can be painful. Other side effects of the presence of the neurotoxin PhTx3 can include loss of muscle control and difficulty breathing that will lead to death by asphyxiation if anti-venom is not used.

PnTx2-6 is better

Lower dosages of the specific venom peptide PnTx2-6 have been shown to produce pain-free erections in lab rats with high blood pressure. PnTx2-6 helps the brain send the signal to the penis for the valve to the corpora cavernosa to open, allowing blood to fill the cavity like air into a balloon, producing erection.

Dr. Nunes believes that this peptide may be used to treat sexual dysfunction in both men and women, although additional study will be required for the latter.

“The toxin was able to normalize the erectile dysfunction in these animals,” wrote Nunes in a Journal of Sexual Medicine study.

Brazilian wandering spider venom: Different than Viagra

While the physiological response of erection from banana spider venom is similar to Viagra, Nunes told MSNBC that there are differences that could make the Phoneutria nigriventer venom derivative a product that works when Viagra does not.

“This is good because we know that some patients don’t respond to conventional therapy,” said Nunes.

This spider gets around

While the Brazilian wandering spider is normally found in the forests of South America, it is nomadic and has traveled into Central America and North America via banana bunches delivered to supermarkets.

The spider was named world’s most venomous spider in the 2010 Guinness World Records book. Despite the dangerous venom, Rod Crawford of the University of Washington’s Burke Museum stated that only 10 of every 7,000 humans bitten worldwide by the Brazilian wandering spider have died.

Sources

Daily Mail Online http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1363810/Spider-venom-causes-hour-long-erections-new-Viagra.html#ixzz1FvJow4Ia
Discovery Health http://health.howstuffworks.com/sexual-health/sexual-dysfunction/viagra.htm
Wikipedia entry for Brazilian wandering spider http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_wandering_spider

‘Huge, hairy, fanged’… erections

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