The venom of some spiders found in Ireland could help kill bacteria, such as E-Coli, and even help cure cancer, say researchers at NUI Galway.
According to Dr Michel Dugon, from the university's school of Natural Science, there are more than 400 species of venomous spiders in Ireland. While none of the spiders pose a threat to humans, their poison could have medical value.
"At least two species that we have screened so far have medicinal properties," he told the BBC's "Good Morning Ulster" program.
The BBC reports that Dr. Dugon is researching the venom, isolating compounds to see what their potential is for targeting cancer tumors and pathogens.
"The common false black widow spider actually deals with cancer cells in a way that is different than healthy cells," he said.
The findings could potentially lead to new cancer treatments, but it would take a long time to develop such therapies, said the doctor.
Dr Dugan said he was surprised to find a cave spider in Connacht that effectively kills bacteria harmful to humans without harming human cells.
He said this is the first time Irish arachnids have been studied in depth because specialists tend to concentrate on larger, more charismatic species that are known to to be dangerous to humans.
"The 400 Irish species have been left behind," he said.
The Galway researchers are also examining the fluids from jellyfish, barnacles, sea sponges and octopus ink for potential medicinal properties.