Can poison from insects be used in medical treatments?

University of Buffalo biophysicists are using a protein from the venom of a tarantula called the Chilean Rose to fight death from heart attacks.

In your cell walls, there are tiny channels that open whenever the cell stretches. These channels are responsible for the contraction of heart muscles. When they open too wide, which can happen from heart muscles stretching over time, the channels can allow a flood of positive ions into the cell.

The extra ions disrupt the electrical signals in the heart, which will cause the heart to beat wildly and irregularly, or, in medical terms, to fibrillate.

However, protein from the venom of a Chilean tarantula binds to these channels, which can then block positive ions from passing through. That ostensibly will prevent fibrillation from occurring, and thus will prevent death, if it is delivered during a heart attack.

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