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Tarantula venom peptide shows promise as a drug


A team of scientists at the University at Buffalo is working to develop a tarantula venom-based therapy for a range of conditions including muscular dystrophy ("MD").

The new therapy utilizes a tarantula venom peptide called GsMTx4. Earlier research by scientists showed that purifying the peptide and changing its structure to its mirror image prevented it from being destroyed by stomach enzymes or the immune system.

Recently completed studies involving mice concluded that the drug increased muscle strength and caused no mortality, morbidity or toxicity.

Fredrick Sachs, PhD, who heads the lab that discovered the peptide, said in a release:

Unlike most drugs, GsMTx4 seems to generate only positive side effects. In addition to its effectiveness in MD, it inhibits atrial fibrillation, a cardiac arrhythmia that affects 2 million Americans, and for which there currently is no reliable drug therapy.

Photo by J. Coelho

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