Spider venom may cure dengue fever

A new insecticide uses spider venom to specifically target insects which carry diseases like malaria and dengue fever. Photo / Thinkstock
A new insecticide uses spider venom to specifically target insects which carry diseases like malaria and dengue fever. Photo / Thinkstock

Spider venom could be the answer to the world's fight against dengue fever, new research shows.

University of Queensland Professor Glenn King is working on a new insecticide using spider venom to specifically target insects which carry diseases like malaria and dengue fever.

Prof King says he's concerned insects are becoming resistant to current insecticides and increased environmental standards have made it more difficult to register new insecticides.

"There are very few new insecticides being developed," he said.

"It is very hard to make an insecticide that will just kill insects and won't harm anything else."

He said the advantage of using spider venom is that it is able to specifically target the insect, making it much more environmentally friendly than other insecticides.

"There is absolutely no risk to humans. It is very safe," he said.

Prof King said the insecticide could help eradicate malaria and dengue fever and reduce the economic cost to the Australian health system each year.

"It takes a lot of money to control dengue fever," he said.

"The best way to control outbreaks is not through drugs but by stopping the spread of mosquitoes."

Prof King will use a grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC) to fund his research, to be released in 2014.

- AAP

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