WORDS LIM TECK CHOON
The Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria nigriventer) is known as one of the world’s most venomous spiders for a good reason. Its venom can cause its victims to experience paralysis, shutdown of the nervous system, irregular heartbeats, and often, death. It also causes painful, prolonged erections in men. Yes, you read that correctly.
Always the type to look at silver linings, a team of researchers in Brazil recently managed to create a substance similar to PnTx2-6, a component of the venom, in hopes of developing a medication for erectile dysfunction that can be used safely by men with diabetes and high blood pressure.
You see, erectile dysfunction is commonly seen among men with those two health conditions, but currently available medications may not be an option for them. Tadalafil, for example, should not be taken alongside nitrate medications for heart problems, as this may lead to sudden and serious drops in blood pressure.
So far, research on mice with induced diabetes and high blood pressure found that the synthesized substance, called PnPP-19, does work to restore the ability to have an erection. This effect is seen when PnPP-19 is applied topically (on the skin) as well as injected directly into the mice.
More research is needed to support this finding and to determine whether the same effect will be seen in humans. Still, it’s a testament to the marvel of nature that a deadly toxin may end up providing a solution for the happiness of human beings! HT
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Reference: Nunes da Silva, C., et al. (2019). PnPP-19 peptide restores erectile function in hypertensive and diabetic animals through intravenous and topical administration. J Sex Med;16:365–374