Having a fear of creepy-crawlies is normal, in fact there may even be an evolutionary explanation for the fear that so many people show towards insects and spiders. Most people want to avoid insects at all costs whether they have a fear of them or not. However, maybe insects deserve a little more attention and respect than we want to give them as some insects are helping scientists find new treatments for devastating illnesses.
The housefly, for example, shares many of its genes with the fruit fly, and the fruit fly shares sixty percent of its genetic makeup with humans. Due to this genetic relationship, researchers can examine the genes of a housefly to better understand a human’s genetic functioning. Perhaps, by encoding fly gene sequences, researchers can learn to prevent genetic abnormalities in humans. Research has also shown that forty percent of two hundred and five different species of spider venom contained compounds that work to block pain receptors in the human body. And it is not just spider venom that has medical researchers excited. As it turns out spider silk can also be used to help victims of nerve damage. Reconstructive nerve surgery using spider silk is already a reality in animal models.
Researchers are also excited about the medical benefits that bees bring to the table. A chemical in bee venom called melittin can potentially destroy the Human Immunodeficiency. The melittin can make a whole in the double layered membrane that surrounds the Virus. Once this whole is made then toxic nanoparticles could be delivered into the viral cell, effectively killing it. In fact, researchers are already looking at bee venom as an ingredient in an anti-HIV vaginal gel. Bees could also help develop antibiotic drugs since bees produce an antimicrobial substance that can possibly eradicated staph infections, and other bacterial infections.
It may not be unfair to say that the future of medicine belongs to bugs.
Why would some types of spider venom contain pain blocking components?