Well, what a very unlikely source of drug- Australian funnel web spider (is this the part where I should tell you that it’s actually one of the deadliest spiders in the world?) venom may be the answer to warding off brain damage caused by strokes. So, just a quick fact check: a bite from this eight-legged creature can kill a human in just 15 minutes!
This may not be for those with a faint heart but with these scary spiders’ venom is a harmless molecule called Hi1a, found to possibly protect brain cells from being destroyed by strokes. About 6.4 million people a year die from stroke. And at least 85 percent of these are ischemic strokes, where blockage in blood flow causes the loss of oxygen to part or all of the brain.
Glenn King of the University of Queensland’s centre for pain research, showed in a series of studies on rats how a single small dose of this ingredient can protect neurons from strokes. Recently, in a journal published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
, he also explained how this is effective in rats by 80% two hours after stroke and up to 65% even after eight hours! “The untreated rats performed very badly after stroke. Their neurological and motor performance were terrible,” said King. But treatment with Hi1a “almost restored these functions to normal,” he added.
While this wasn’t tested on humans yet, if future trials would work, this could become the first drug to protect against the devastating loss and damage of neurons caused by strokes. If proven effective, “the drug could be given in the ambulance to most stroke patients before hospital arrival, maximising the number of neurons that can be saved,” said King. “This should diminish the mortality from stroke and provide much better outcomes for those that survive as more brain function will be retained.”