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A topical ED drug made from deadly spider venom just cleared its first human trial

Published Sep 30th, 2023 5:14PM EDT
brazilian wandering spider
Image: Kevin / Adobe

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A new drug for erectile dysfunction (ED) may come from an unlikely source. According to new reports from Gizmodo, a Brazilian-based pharmaceutical company has developed a topical ED drug made from the venom of the Brazilian wandering spider. The new drug has already passed its early human trials and will begin a phase two study very soon.

The Brazilian wandering spider is also known as the banana spider and is actually rather large. Being bit by this spider can cause elevated heart rate, shock, convulsions, and even death. A side effect of the bite is that it can also cause erections that last for hours on end. This is known as priapism, and while it can cause permanent damage to the penis and is painful, the fact this spider bite causes it has long interested many scientists.

spider that makes venom used to make ED drugImage source: Ivan Kuzmin / Adobe

Now, these researchers at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil have finally dived into the way it works and found a way to harness its power for the good of all men suffering from ED. But if you’re concerned about how an ED drug made from spider venom that can lead to death might work out, the first phase of the human clinical trials has been very promising.

The topical gel the researchers created appears to work with minimal amount applied to the penis. The trial has shown that it can increase blood flow by increasing the level of nitric oxide – a molecule that is vital to erections – without reaching a level of toxicity in the bloodstream. Topical treatments like this often have fewer side effects than traditional ED pills, which is why we’re seeing so much interest in using the spider’s venom to create a gel-like treatment option. 

From here the spider venom ED drug will go on to additional testing, where it will see a much larger scale of testing. That phase is set to begin within the month and will focus on testing it on patients who have undergone prostate removal, which can damage the nerves that help maintain an erection. The study will include 72 people, all of whom will be broken up into three groups to test the drug’s efficacy against other options.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.