Australian funnel-web spiders are among the most deadly arachnids in the world, and researchers have now discovered they can even be used to kill certain cancer cells.
The QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute study found peptide — extracted from the venom gland of the Darling Downs funnel-web spider and chemically synthesised — has anti-cancer properties that can kill melanoma cancer cells in humans and stop them spreading.
The compound, which also proved highly effective at treating Tasmanian devil facial tumour cells, could form the basis of new cancer treatments.
Queensland lead researcher Dr Maria Ikonomopoulou said the peptide was tested in laboratory experiments against a similar compound from a Brazilian spider, and she was shocked it had such a profound effect.
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