Scientists Say: Let's Cure Erectile Dysfunction With Spider Venom!

By Patrick Morgan | March 5, 2011 10:10 am

Spiders and penises are two things most people want to keep far, far apart. Until now. New research suggests that the venom of one aggressive arachnid could be used in future treatments for erectile dysfunction (that is, if it doesn’t kill you first).

Say hello to the  Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria nigriventer), also known as the armed spider, or as the banana spider. With an over four-inch leg span, this South and Central American native normally creeps around banana plantations, although some have wound up in American supermarkets and Canadian grocery stores. Flaccid fellows beware: On top of severe pain, a single bite from this eight-legged foe can cause you to lose control of your muscles—and if it’s not treated, the bite can screw up your ability to breathe so much so that you slowly die of oxygen deprivation.With a sip of the anti-venom, though, you’d recover in a week. And truth be told, only 10 people out of 7,000 are known to have actually died from a bite. Survivors tell of experiencing painful erections that last for more than four hours—a medical ailment known as priapism.

It’s this last side effect that interests Kenia Nunes, a physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia, who thinks this venom can be used to treat sexual dysfunction in both men and women. As outlined in her Journal of Sexual Medicine study, she first had to isolate the toxin to blame. “The venom of the P. nigriventer spider is a very rich mixture of several molecules,” Nunes told MSNBC. Feeding the active ingredient—a peptide called PnTx2-6—to a bunch of erection-challenged rats (with high blood pressure to boot), she discovered that it did indeed perk up these poor flaccid fellows.

Aside from achieving side-effect-free erections, the rat’s new-found potency is much different from drugs such as Viagra: Nunes discovered that the banana spider’s toxin follows different pathways to create erections, which has a major advantage. Nunes told MSNBC:

“This is good because we know that some patients don’t respond to the conventional therapy,” she says. “This could be an optional treatment for them.”

Now she wants to see if this toxin can also help female sexual dysfunction. And if everything goes to plan, in the coming years, this spider toxin could wind up on drug store shelves and bedroom across the nation, causing shortness of breath of a very different kind.

Related Content:
80beats: Study: The Chemical BPA, in High Doses, Causes Impotence
80beats: Skeptics of “Female Viagra” Say Drug Co’s Are “Disease Branding”
Discoblog: Viagra Could Be a Lifesaver for Muscular Dystrophy Patients
Discoblog: Erectile Dysfunction Could Signal a Heart Attack

Image: Wikimedia Commons / Jarekt

  • joel

    typo in the headline

    • Patrick Morgan

      @joel Thanks for pointing out the headline typo!

      Best,
      Pat

  • Scott

    I almost choked on my breakfast after reading the first sentence.

  • anon

    And the sponsored link when I read this was “Northern Tool.”

  • http://the-reviewer.com TheReviewer

    I have never suffered from this dysfunction.

  • http://faculty.alverno.edu/bowneps pat bowne

    Is the toxin interfering with acetylcholine ? If not, what is its mechanism?

  • http://men-menopause.blogspot.com retiree777

    Hopefully this discovery can help to overcome male menopause also.

  • http://www.inspirational-bibleverses.com Isolino

    Sounds hopeful.

  • alf

    Banana spider cures broken banana’s. Yay!!

  • Chaz

    I hope that is a spider on an ARM.

  • http://www.gorgeousworld.net/ Eric

    i don’t know anyone that uses viagra or the others for E.D. they are recreational/lifestyle drugs.

  • jake3_14

    I already have the cure for female sexual dysfunction: roofies!

  • Mr freakin Curious

    Can someone break down some of the female sexual dysfunctions? I am evidently ignorant because I have absolutely no idea how this would help any women unless the vital parts did not open up. I believe it uses similar cells for the movement down there.

  • Skyler

    Where can i buy this…..

  • Tiramisutan

    This is crazy..But hey if it works, it works…

  • Chum

    Someones spider sense isn’t tingling

  • cody thomas

    …. dorian brian and skyler… your cool

  • x

    the people above me are slow

  • Brian Too

    [foxmode]
    And in other news, the Brazilian wandering spider is facing extinction due to unregulated harvesting and trading activities. Spider parts are reputed to be a cure for erectile dysfunction… despite the lack of any evidence that anything beyond the spider venom has any effect.

    Indeed, several other similar spiders are also threatened. Spider poachers are misrepresenting other species as being “genuine Brazilian wandering spiders”.

    Doctors and public health officials urge the public not to self-medicate and consult with their family physician instead. Millions ignore this advice.
    [/foxmode]

  • http://private.com johnny tsunami

    Mr Freakin Curious, is also Mr Freakin Amusing :-)

  • enaid

    Mr. Freakin’ Curious needs some anatomy lessons. I wonder how many girlfriends he’s lost due to his ignorance…

  • http://www.exact-pharma.com Kamagra

    Alot of men are too embarrased to go to the doctor about it. It’s their manhood and pride that are being affected and speaking to their doctor about it will feel to them like the worst thing in the world. What they don’t realise is their doctor is professional and probably sees dozens of ED cases a week. It’s just another day for him. He’s not going to judge you, or embarrass you. He’s there to help you.

  • john

    unless you haven’t experienced it e.d. is terrible. besides my mind and other things i lost, an erection is the one i miss most. sex, intimacy, orgasm are terrible losses. viagra and varieties just don’t do it.
    i know (men) you will but hopefully you will loose interest before you loose ability to get it up; i haven’t lost interest or desire. just the ability.

  • De_low2005@yahoo

    the fact is.. they need to find a perminate cure where the dysfunction is dealt with perminately.. not just taking a pill getting an errection and the next time u go to have an intercoarse without you either cant get hard or cum to soon without some pill.    its the same issue for other things…     i mean these issues have been around for so many years.. how the hell cant they figure these things out by now…. its 2012.. i mean over a hundred billion dollars have been spent to find cures for things.  yes for people to study day in and day out on cures.    but alls we get is some pill that can cause 40 harmful side effects or death…… really… common thats just retarded…

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »