POISON MY HEART
A spider bite could save your life, a Brief Communication this week suggests.
Frederick Sachs of the State University of New York, Buffalo, and colleagues report that a peptide isolated from the venom of the tarantula spider (Grammostola spatulata) can stop a chaotic disruption of the heart’s natural rhythm, or ‘atrial fibrillation’, induced here in rabbit hearts (Nature, Vol. 409, No. 6816, 04 Jan 2001). Atrial fibrillation is a common complication of heart conditions in humans and causes around 15% of strokes.
The small peptide known as GsMtx-4 blocks certain stretch-activated ion channels — cardiac-cell gateways that control access of vital ions. This discovery will help researchers understand how a steady heartbeat can be knocked for six.
The findings also "point the way towards developing a new class of drugs" directed against the cause rather than the symptoms of the condition, the researchers say.
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza