Australian researchers milk deadliest spiders to save lives

Australian researchers milk deadliest spiders to save lives

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 11:09 am


funnel web spider

funnel web spider

Australian researchers said they are milking a deadly funnel-web spider with a leg span of 10 centimetres, the largest ever used for their anti-venom programme. The funnel-web, named Big Boy, is one of the world’s deadliest species of spiders.

A report by the researchers on Wednesday in Sydney said  they would  milk the spider to produce an antidote for humans bitten venom.
The report said only males can be milked, and venom drips constantly from the fangs of Big Boy. It said Big Boy was one of more than 500 funnel-webs that are milked for venom at the park every year.
It said their venom was then injected in incremental doses into rabbits that gradually build up antibodies in their blood.
“After 10-12 months, the lab extracts a small amount of the blood, from which the plasma containing the anti-bodies is extracted to make the anti-venom serum.’’
It warned that the bite from a funnel-web, which can live under water up to 30 hours, can affect the nervous system and intestines, cause difficulty in breathing and even heart collapse.
The Australian Museum said there have been 13 recorded deaths from the Sydney funnel-web spider bites in Australia, but no one has died since the anti-venom programme was introduced in 1981.
“It said the funnel-web has been handed over last week to the Australian Reptile Park for the country’s sole anti-venom scheme.
“The park regularly issues calls to the public to catch and send in spiders to produce the anti-venom, which saves hundreds of lives per year,’’ it said.
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