Imprimir Republish


Spiders, allies of men

Aranha-armadeira, inspiração para um fármaco contra disfunção erétil

Rodrigo Tetsuo Argenton / UFMG The Brazilian wandering spider, inspiration for an erectile dysfunction drugRodrigo Tetsuo Argenton / UFMG

The bite of a Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria nigriventer) injects a venom that can cause an involuntary, persistent, and painful erection in men, known as priapism. A group from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), led by biologist Maria Elena de Lima, studied the toxin and identified the part of the protein that causes the side effect, then used it to synthesize a molecule to treat erectile dysfunction. The research is important because existing drugs for the problem cannot be taken at the same time as many medications for chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, which affect a large proportion of the male population. The peptide, called BZ371A, has already been tested on rodents and people (men and women) and proved capable of activating blood circulation in the genital region, with no major side effects. It will now be tested on men with erectile dysfunction caused by prostate removal, in a phase 2 clinical trial conducted by the Brazilian company Biozeus Biopharmaceutical. If successful, the compound could be used in gel form. Topical application tends to have fewer unwanted side effects, in addition to acting faster (Notícias UFMG, September 13).