It sounds like a most unlikely aphrodisiac. But scientists have discovered the venom from what’s considered the world’s deadliest spider could be the secret to bolstering a man’s love life.
Toxins produced by the Brazilian Wandering Spider, or Phoneutria nigriventer, appear to combat erectile dysfunction within 20 minutes of entering the body.
Tests carried out on rats show the venom boosts performance by increasing the release of nitric oxide, a chemical that dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow. This is similar to how existing impotence drugs work.
In tests on rats the spider’s toxin boosted erections by triggering the release of nitric oxide
The Brazilian Wandering Spider is responsible for killing more people than any other arachnid. Victims usually die within an hour of being bitten.
It is also known as the banana spider because of its habit of stowing away in shipments of the fruit.
In 2008, a supermarket in Chatham, Kent, was forced to close after an assistant spotted one of the spiders under a box of bananas as she stacked them.
One in ten men in the UK suffers erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives.
Although drugs such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra have revolutionised treatment in the last ten years, around 30 per cent of men who take them see no improvement.
For these men, the only other options are to inject drugs straight into the penis, or use a pump that manually increases blood supply to the organ. Neither is very popular.
A drug made from spider venom could prove to be an effective alternative.
Researchers from Brazil and the US extracted the toxin, called PnTx2-6, from the deadly venom and injected it into rats which had age-related erectile dysfunction.
They found the toxin boosted erections by triggering the release of nitric oxide, which boosts circulation in the male genitals by helping blood vessel walls relax.
In a report on their findings, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, the researchers said: ‘The decrease in erectile function associated with age was partially restored 15 to 20 minutes after injection with PnTx2-6.’
Brazilian scientists first became interested in the deadly spider’s ability to boost sexual performance when victims of bites reported major improvements in their sex lives.