The funnel web spider can save your life! Unless, of course, if they kill you. Growing up we were always wary of funnel webs in swimming pools in Sydney. For some reason that’s where they are found.
Funnel web spider -photo The Museum of Queensland
Scientists have found that their deadly venom contains peptides (the building blocks of proteins) that can fight melanoma (skin cancer) cells and stop them from spreading. The funnel webs are the ones from an area called Toowoomba in southern Queensland. Skin cancer is a big killer in Australia, so it’s big news that one of our most poisonous spiders could cure us.
Their venom could also cure another cancer that Tasmanian Devils suffer from. They have a facial tumour that spreads on close contact and deforms their face, so badly that they can’t eat and starve to death.
Tasmanian Devil with facial tumours- Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water
The population has been so badly affected that isolated colonies of the Tassie Devils have be established in case the ones on the island of Tasmania are wiped out.
The research is still a long way off, but it looks promising.