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Spider Venom

October 8, 2008

Scientists discover a new class of chemical compounds in spider venom.


Drugs from spiders? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Spider venom may be toxic, but potent chemicals in the venom have actually led to new treatments for conditions ranging from arthritis to erectile dysfunction. According to chemist Frank Schroeder of Cornell University, however, many of the potentially useful components of spider venom have remained a mystery until now. He and his colleagues analyzed the venom of 70 spider species using a technique called nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. It identifies each molecule’s structure by the unique visual signatures given off by its individual atoms.

FRANK SCHROEDER (Cornell University):
And that allowed us to see compounds that previously have been missed, an entirely novel group of compounds called sulfated nucleosides.

He says these newly discovered compounds could potentially have powerful therapeutic properties. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.