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Could this deadly spider’s venom hold the cure for cancer?

Extra.ie logo Extra.ie 10/10/2018 Graham McGrath
a spider on a branch © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

The cure for cancer is the most sought-after idea in medicine, but could the answer for a cure lie in this deadly spider’s venom?

A new study suggests that it could be possible using the venom from a Darling Downs funnel-web spiders which are indigenous to Australia.

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Venom from many of the 35 species of funnel-web spiders could easily kill a human, but tests show that it could also be used to kill melanoma cells.

a close up of an animal: The funnel web spider’s venom could be used to kill melanoma cells. Pic: Shutterstock © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland The funnel web spider’s venom could be used to kill melanoma cells. Pic: Shutterstock

The research conducted by the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute showed that certain chemicals within the venom can be chemically manipulated to battle the devastating disease.

Head researcher, Dr Maria Ikonomopulou told the Brisbane Times: ‘We decided to test this spider [funnel-web] compound because it was very similar in chemical composition to a compound from a Brazilian spider.

The spider’s venom could actually kill a human. Pic: Shutterstock © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland The spider’s venom could actually kill a human. Pic: Shutterstock

‘When we tested the Australian spider peptide on melanoma cells in the laboratory, it killed a majority of them.

‘We also found that the Australian funnel-web spider peptide was better at killing melanoma cancer cells and stopping them from spreading, than the Brazilian spider peptide.’

a close up of a rock: The treatment has only been used on mice and a Tasmanian devil so far. Pic: Shutterstock © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland The treatment has only been used on mice and a Tasmanian devil so far. Pic: Shutterstock

So far the treatment has only been tested on mice and also on a Tasmanian devil with cancer cells.

Dr Ikonomopulou is continuing her research to discover whether the treatment could be viable in humans.

Gallery: Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Spiders, In Case One Bites You (Health.com)

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