BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Venom from a deadly spider in South America could soon provide men with an alternative to Viagra! Researchers have found that the toxin may help treat patients dealing with erectile dysfunction. This development could revolutionize treatment options for many men who currently can’t take existing medications.
The Phoneutria nigriventer spider, commonly known as the banana spider or armadeira, is found in South America and is known for its venom which can cause a painful and involuntary erection — a condition known as priapism. While this might sound alarming, scientists have tapped into this unique trait to develop a potential solution for sexual impotence.
Brazilian researchers at the Ezequiel Dias Foundation (Funed) and UFMG, led by Professor Maria Elena de Lima, embarked on a 20-year-long study that resulted in the creation of a synthetic molecule called BZ371A. This molecule, inspired by the spider’s venom, has garnered interest in the scientific community for its potential as an erectile dysfunction treatment.
“It is research inspired by our biodiversity, which begins with the study of spider venom and is close to generating a possible medicine,” says de Lima in a media release translated from Portuguese. “This helps demonstrate why our fauna must be preserved: it is an inexhaustible source of bioactive molecules, and we do not know even 1 percent of this potential. Our work, which is basic science, seeks to identify biological activities of interest in poisons and detect potential drug models for a wide range of diseases.”
A topical cream with fewer side-effects than current ED meds?
Current erectile dysfunction drugs, including popular options like Viagra and Cialis, only work for about 70 percent of patients. The remaining 30 percent can’t take these drugs due to potential side-effects or pre-existing health conditions. This new drug aims to fill that void. Early clinical tests have shown that BZ371A can increase local blood flow and cause vasodilation, which aids in achieving an erection.
Biozeus Biopharmaceutical, a company specializing in drug development, has taken over the project and is currently preparing for phase two clinical trials, targeting men with erectile dysfunction who have undergone prostate removal surgery.
“As a company that embraced this project, we have some points to highlight. The first is that this may be the first time that a discovery from a Brazilian university results in a medication that is developed for the entire world,” says Paulo Lacativa, the company’s executive director. “And we believe that this successful case, led by Brazilians in Brazil, with worldwide repercussion, may be capable of changing the entire pharmaceutical innovation ecosystem in the country.”
One of the distinct features of the new drug is its topical application. Unlike oral medications (pills), this new solution is applied directly to the skin and has been shown in tests to have little to no systemic side-effects. De Lima underscored that even when administered in high doses, BZ371A did not display any adverse effects.
Furthermore, the medication could benefit a demographic beyond men: women. As the drug has proven to safely increase blood flow in women, it opens up the possibility for a treatment for female sexual dysfunction, a condition affecting approximately 40 percent of women.
This breakthrough, which began with a deep dive into the properties of a dangerous spider’s venom, showcases the infinite potential of our natural world and highlights the importance of preserving and studying our biodiversity.
You might also be interested in:
- Sexual activity can trigger an asthma attack, study reveals
- Not just old folks: Sudden heart problems can kill younger adults making love, too
- Viagra reduces risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by nearly 70 percent