WEDNESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- A newly identified toxin
in spider venom may help lead to new ways to treat pain and disease
in humans, scientists report.
Spider venom toxins help researchers learn more about ion
channels, which control the flow of ions across cell membranes and
play an important role in a number of biological processes and
In their research on the venom of the American funnel web
spider, a team from the University of California at Riverside
identified a toxin that acts on T-type and N-type calcium
According to the researchers, the discovery of the toxin may
provide a new target for studying T-type channels, which are
involved in human conditions such as congestive heart failure, high
blood pressure, epilepsy and pain.
The finding was scheduled for presentation Wednesday at the
annual meeting of the Biophysical Society, in Baltimore.
"The blocking mechanism of the [spider] toxin is different from classical pore blocker toxins" and others, lead researcher Xiao Zhang, who works at the Del Webb Center for Neuroscience in La Jolla, Calif., said in a society news release. He added that it appeared to offer a new toxin blocking mechanism for certain ion channels.
"If we can develop a calcium-channel blocker based on this toxin, we could have a new way to identify how these channels work and develop drugs for treating pain and disease," Zhang said.
Experts note that research presented at meetings has not been
subjected to the same type of rigorous scrutiny given to research
published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
Consumers Union of the U.S. has more about
calcium channel blockers.