Taking the sting out of spider venom
Brown recluse spiders bite more than 7,000 people in Brazil every year causing serious skin lesions and even death. The anti-venom used as treatment comes at the expense of many animal lives. But could a breakthrough in synthetic spider venom lead to a more humane solution?
“The first time I was bitten, I nearly died,” says Adelaide Fabienski Maia, a school assistant from Curitiba.
“I put my shorts on in the morning and felt a bite but didn’t realise what it was. It wasn’t until the evening that my face started burning up. I looked at the bite area and it was red.”
Adelaide was soon rushed to hospital with the classic target-shaped lesion caused by the venom eating away at her skin.
It was only thanks to a dose of anti-venom that she’s still around to tell the tale.
But the anti-venom currently available comes with its own risks – mostly to the animals involved in the production process.
Venom is milked from thousands of brown spiders before being injected into horses. This triggers an immune response that creates life-saving anti-venom for humans – while drastically reducing the horses’ own lifespan.
Now scientists in Brazil have come up with a synthetic venom alternative that could save many of those lives.
Read the full story – BBC News – Biting back: Taking the sting out of spider venom.