Life-saving Treatment for Heart Attacks Discovered Inside Protein of Deadly Spider Venom


Australian researchers discovered a potentially life-saving treatment for heart attacks inside a very unlikely source — the venom of one of the world’s deadliest spiders. A drug candidate developed from a molecule found in the venom of the Fraser Island (K’gari) funnel web spider can prevent damage caused by a heart attack, as well as extend the life of donor hearts for organ transplants. The discovery was made by a team led by Professor Peter Macdonald from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Australia and colleagues at The University of Queensland. Macdonald said this incredible result had been decades in the making: “This will not only help the hundreds of thousands of people who have a heart attack every year, it could also increase the number and quality of donor hearts, which will give hope to those waiting on the transplant list.” Dr Palpant, from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), said the drug candidate worked by stopping a ‘death signal’ sent from the heart in the wake of an attack. Dr. Palpant tested the drug candidate, a protein called Hi1a, using beating human heart cells exposed to heart attack stresses to see if the drug improved their survival.

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