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The composition and function of spider venoms

A/Prof Volker Herzig provides an introduction into the complex composition of spider venoms and their associated functions.

Spiders have gained a negative public image, which is largely based on fear of their venomous bites. However, in fact only half a percent of all spiders are potentially dangerous to humans, whereas recent research reveals that some of the their venom components could actually benefit humanity.

In this video we will learn that spiders evolved their venoms to overcome their mostly invertebrate prey or to defend against predators. Their venoms are composed of a diverse array of inorganic and organic components with peptide and protein toxins being mainly responsible for the activity of the venoms. Given that some peptide toxins evolved to be stable, potent and selective towards ion channels makes them interesting candidates for the development of novel human therapeutics or bioinsecticides for targeting insect pests.

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