Who could have guessed that the deadly spider can become our saviour one day? The bite of this Australian funnel web spider is deadly. It’ venom can kill us within 15 minutes, but now that venom has turned out to be the answer to stroke treatment.
The fact is that a protein is found in the venom and that is helpful in preventing brain cell damage while stroking. A lab test was carried out on rats and it has gained positive results.
When the scientists milked the venom of the spider, they found out a protein Hi1a in that. It resembles another chemical that actually helps in protecting the brain cells. So, from there the scientist started to go deep into the research and finally they were successful in their experiments.
Till date, the experiments were carried out on rats. It has not been tested on human as of now. The scientists injected the protein into the rats that were recreated by them. The result showed that ion channels, responsible for the brain damage after the stroke, was blocked by it, thus reducing the chances of brain damage.
If the human trial also turns out as successful, then the doctors will have the first drug to ward off the overwhelming neuron loss that stroke causes.
It is strange how one thing connects to the other! The scientists were not researching over the drug that would protect the brain cell rather, they accidentally found it out. They were busy with the sequencing the DNA of toxins when they stumbled upon the protein.
A stroke happens when the blood supply is cut off to the part of the brain or when the bleeding starts in the brain itself.
The facts of the stroke from Stroke Association are quite intimidating:
- Did you know that in every two seconds, there is death in the world due to stroke?
- Approximately, one in eight deaths is due to stroke
- The number of strokes has multiplied since the last few years
- Scientists suggest that within the next decade or so the disability, illness or early death related to stroke will just double
- One in every five seconds, someone is dying due to stroke
- Stroke has become the second most common reason of death
The scientists are quite positive about the human trial outcome as well. As per the research, it is believed that this particular venom protein can also provide protection to the core brain cell that is most affected by lack of oxygen. Till date, it is unrecoverable because the cell death happens very quickly after the stroke. But, if this protein spins its magic spell in there, then it will be a huge success for the scientists.
Prof. King explained why they researched on various kinds of venom to derive life-saving medicines. According to him, the researchers are always on the hunt for molecules that will modulate ion channels’ activity. If the ion-channels are over active then there are chances of stroke and chronic pain, whereas the inactive ion channels result in epilepsy. So, none is good for human body.
The venoms of invertebrates like the centipedes, spiders, and the scorpions are chock-a-block with ion channel modulators. The ion channel modulators that are life threatening for the insects can actually be the life saviour for human because the human nervous system is quite complex and wired in a different way.
If this venom protein can be developed for human use, it will be able to save lives even 8 hours after the stroke.