[ECP] Educational CyberPlayGround: Nethappenings – Spider Venom Counters Stroke & Perfect Birth Control

Spider Venom Counters Stroke

<snip> Glenn King and colleagues at the University of Queensland, Australia were investigating small molecule inhibitors of this ion channel when they chanced upon the sequence of a peptide present in the venom glands of an Australian funnel-web spider – a peptide that bore a marked resemblance to one of the ASIC1a inhibitors the lab was studying. “It was quite a serendipitous discovery,” said King.

The researchers named this peptide Hi1a and demonstrated that in its pure form, Hi1a is a highly effective inhibitor of ASIC1a. It is, in fact, the most potent such inhibitor described to date.

Encouraged by Hi1a’s ability to block ASIC1a and prevent neuronal damage in cultured neurons, King and colleagues decided to administer this drug to rats undergoing an experimental model of stroke. Interestingly, Hi1a was not only able to protect the brain of these rats from neurological damage after stroke, it was able to do so even when administered 8 hours after stroke onset, and without any serious side effects.

Simon, whose lab first described the critical role of ASIC1a in neuronal damage following stroke and demonstrated the use of a tarantula venom for inhibiting the same, is hopeful regarding the future of drug therapeutics targeting acid sensing ion channels for the treatment of stroke. </>

FYI: Perfect Birth Control

Researchers at U.C. Berkeley found a birth control that was hormone-free, 100 percent natural, resulted in no side effects, didn’t harm either eggs nor sperm, could be used in the long-term or short-term, and — perhaps the best part of all — could be used either before or after conception, from ancient Chinese folk medicine… “Because these two plant compounds block fertilization at very, very low concentrations — about 10 times lower than levels of levonorgestrel in Plan B — they could be a new generation of emergency contraceptive we nicknamed ‘molecular condoms,'” team leader Polina Lishko.

Now scientists have figured out how the thunder god vine works to prevent pregnancy. In a paper published (paywall) on May 15 by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers figured out how a compound in the plant actually prevents sperm from being able to fertilize the egg. Their work could lead to an alternative to the hormonal birth control pill.



This article contains supporting information online at www.pnas.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1073/pnas.1700367114/-/DCSupplemental

In traditional Chinese and Taiwanese medicine, patients are told eat the vine to treat inflammation and arthritis. However, there were frequent reports of infertility as a side effect. Lupeol is a chemical found in small amounts in fruits like mangos and grapes, and has also been used in traditional eastern medicine (though not for birth control).

They tested both chemicals and found that when sperm are exposed to pristimerin or lupeol, their tails were never able to start drilling away. The plant chemicals blocked the necessary chain reaction that begins with the progesterone-ABHD2 interaction. It took just a tiny bit of these plant compounds to stop the sperm tails from forcefully wriggling—“about 10 times lower than levels of levonorgestrel in Plan B,” Polina Lishko,

Anti Fertility Plants


About Educational CyberPlayGround, Inc.®

Educational CyberPlayGround, Inc. strives to help Teachers, Parents, and Policy Makers Learn about: Music, Teaching, Internet, Technology, Literacy, Arts and Linguistics in the K12 classroom.
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