Arachnophobia, or the fear of spiders, is one of the most common phobias. However, in an incredible turn of events, spiders may become an unexpected ally in the fight against erectile dysfunction (ED).
A topical drug currently being tested uses the venom of the fearsome Brazilian wandering spider, known for its potentially lethal bite. A group of researchers from Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil he managed to isolate and exploit a particular reaction caused by poison, transforming a feared threat into a cure.
An unexpected source of... Strength
The Brazilian wandering spider (scientific name: Phoneutria nigriventer), it's not exactly the animal you would want to meet during a walk in the woods. Also known as banana spiders, they are quite large and a bite from them can lead to a number of very unpleasant symptoms, including elevated heart rate, shock, seizures and in some cases, death.
However, there is one side effect of their biting that has intrigued scientists for years: the ability to induce erections that last for hours, a condition known as priapism. Although it can cause permanent damage and pain, the venom's effect has opened an intriguing door for medical research into erectile dysfunction.
From fear to curiosity
The move from fearing spider venom to considering it a potential solution for erectile dysfunction was driven by pure scientific curiosity. The first step was to identify a way to harness the power of the poison for the benefit of those who suffer from this problem.
The creation of each drug, as you know, requires meticulous research and lots of experimentation. In this case, the researchers developed a topical gel that, when applied, appears to work with a minimal amount applied to the needed spot. Clinical tests have shown that the gel can increase blood flow by increasing the level of nitric oxide, a crucial molecule for erections, without reaching toxic levels in the blood.
This topical approach may lead to fewer side effects than traditional pill-based erectile dysfunction drugs, which makes this discovery even more… exciting?
Erectile dysfunction, the promise of a better future
After passing the first tests on humans, the new drug is preparing for a second clinical trial. A large-scale trial is planned, focusing on patients who have had their prostate removed, a procedure that can damage the nerves needed to maintain an erection.
This news, needless to say, doesn't make me any less arachnophobic, but the possibility of offering a new treatment option and significantly improving the quality of life of those suffering from erectile dysfunction is really tough.
Ending a popular science article with a boomer double entendre? Done.