Spider venom better than Viagra? What guys should know first
(CBS) They call it the banana spider, and maybe not just because it's often found on South American fruit plantations.
Some say venom from the big South American arachnid - its legs can span four to five inches - could lead to a new treatment for erectile dysfunction.
Men bitten by the spider (scientific name P. nigriventer) have been known to develop long-lasting erections, MSNBC reported. Alas, that condition - which doctors call priapism - isn't the only symptom the bites cause. Others include intense pain, loss of muscle control, and breathing difficulties.
"So we started to investigate which part of the venom - which toxin - would be responsible for his symptom." Dr. Kenia Nunes, a scientist at the Medical College of Georgia who is studying the venom, told MSNBC.
Dr. Nunes tested the effect of a toxin called PnTx2-6 on lab rats bred to have severe erectile dysfunction. What happened? "The toxin was able to normalize the erectile function in these animals," Nunes said. "This is good because we know that some patients don't respond to the conventional therapy," she says. "This could be an optional treatment for them."
Of course, it might not be the best option - even if research on the banana spider bears fruit.
Erectile dysfunction can often be beaten by getting more exercise, losing weight, or stopping smoking.
Or just taking a pill.
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