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Well you have probably heard of spider-venom being used in novel ways before, and medical-science is no stranger to the benefits of some types of animal venoms. Now, researchers from Australia believe that the dangerous venom from the highly feared funnel-web spider could be used to treat brain damage, especially the type of brain damage that occurs after strokes.

Every year about six million people die as a result of stroke, and five million people become permanently disabled as a result of stroke. However, this could change as researchers believe that there is a protein within funnel-web spider venom that can treat stroke-induced brain damage.

The name of the protein is Hi1a, and this protein can block the ion channels that cause brain damage after a stroke. Researchers have already tested this protein on mice, and the treatment potential seems promising. The valued protein that the researchers are after does not, surprisingly, cause any harm to the human nervous system. It is believed that the protein can protect a victim of a stroke from brain damage if the protein is injected in time. The protein has neuroprotective value for a period of eight hours. Most of the time, a number of cells in the brain’s core region die as a result of stroke, but this newly discovered protein could prevent much of that damage.

The funnel-web spiders that were used in the study were taken from Fraser Island on the Queensland coast. In order to extract venom from the funnel-web spiders, researchers connected electrical charges to the fangs of the funnel-web spider. A jolt of electricity causes the spiders to excrete some of their venom. The electricity causes the spiders muscles to contract, which is how researchers squeeze venom from the fangs of spiders.

What other types of spiders have been exploited for their venom?

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