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article imageNew treatment for spider bites

By Tim Sandle     Sep 2, 2013 in Science
The venom of the brown recluse spider reacts differently in the body to most other spider bites. Researchers are of the view that the discovery could lead to new treatments for spider bites.
Scientists have found that the discovered that venom of the brown recluse spider (and related species) produces a different chemical product in the human body than was previously believed.
Brown recluse spiders (Loxosceles reclusa) are usually around half an inch in size and their colors range from light beige to dark brown. They are sometime called fiddleback spiders, as a result of a violin shaped pattern on their backs. The spiders are common to the U.S., being found south of a line from southeastern Nebraska through southern Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana to southwestern Ohio. In the southern states, it is native from central Texas to western Georgia and north to Kentucky.
The bite of a brown recluse spider can be quite serious. The spider has venom that contains a rare protein that can cause a blackened lesion at the site of a bite. The protein is not associated with the venom of other spiders.
By carrying out extensive test tube studies from collected spider venom, the scientists now understand how the protein works in the human body. What is of interest to the scientists is the part of the body’s reaction to the spider bite when necrosis of the skin occurs for this is evidence of the immune system's efforts to prevent spread of the toxin by preventing blood flow to the affected area. It is at this stage that the scientists think that the protein can be used in a low dose form to act as a block to the toxin, thereby preventing the spread of the toxin in the body from serious spider bites.
The research was carried out at the University of Arizona and the results have been published in journal PLOS ONE.
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