VENOM RESEARCH SOLUTIONS

Pleased to be commenting on BBC news global about the giant Funnel-web spider

Australia has many venomous animals that are a significant danger to humans. In the battle to save human life from unfortunate encounters with venomous animals, specific antivenom is needed. In order to do this, venom must be collected from the animals responsible and depending on the species and size this can be a very difficult process. The Syndney Funnel-web spider (Atrax robustus) is one such animal. The unique thing with A. robustus is that the venom in the mature male spider contains a toxin not found in the females, Delta Atracotoxin-Ar1. This toxin potently blocks primate voltage gated sodium channels with a much greater afinity than to other mamalian channels, hence the danger to humans. Therefore for successful antivenom production the mature males must be collected annually as they only have a short life once matured. Thus the discovery of the largest male A. robustus is a significant boost to the antivenom project because larger spiders have larger venom glands.

See BBC global news coverage here video