Scorpions are nocturnal animals that live in tropical areas and deserts and are active during the night. The “venomous” factor of scorpions makes them dreadful and, at the same time, fascinating. Most species possess a sting comparable to that of a bee sting, while others have a venomous bite that can be lethal to humans.
What makes them so lethal? Well, that is the “neurotoxin factor” of their venom. It is a chemical that affects the nervous system, ultimately killing or paralyzing their prey, which could be either human or any other animal. But the real question to discuss is what is their use, and what makes them so expensive?
In nature, animals use venom for self-defense or to catch their prey. In the lab, scientists are finding out that those toxic proteins in their venom are of value in medical research too. Researchers have been successful in using scorpion venom to treat brain tumors in humans. Indeed! Massive progress in pharmaceutical sciences. That is because venom, such as chlorotoxin, can be used to block signals from cancer cells. Blocking these signals prevents them from growing. Also, they do not cause any harm to healthy nerve and muscle cells.
Scientists have also discovered the effect of paralysis caused by their venom helpful during operations. For example, when a patient goes into surgery, his body needs to stay still. Even a minor moment can sometimes lead to significant dysfunction. Thus, doctors now give patients “venomous drugs” to cause temporary paralysis while he performs the surgery.
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Another significant discovery describes the capacity of a small protein derived from chlorotoxin to carry drugs across the blood-barrier brain (BBB). “About 98% of drugs that could have therapeutic applications cannot be used because they cannot cross this barrier,” explains laboratory head, Ernest Giralt. Thus, it resolved the difficulty of treating various neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Researchers have been successful in artificially synthesizing venom as well.
Kaliotoxin, another protein in scorpion venom, has been given to rats to fight bone disease. Scientists hope it could work in humans too to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis and Paget disease of bone. And researchers have used the scorpion to eliminate malaria in mosquitoes. And the more they research it, the more uses they find. It means demand for this miracle venom continues to grow. So, scientists are now trying to figure out ways to get more of it faster.
A scorpion is most often stroked by hand without hurting to extract the poison. It is a prolonged and time-consuming process and can only collect you only 2 milligrams of venom. And to fill a gallon, you have to milk your pet 3 million times. Milking is a process of extracting poison from scorpions. To figure out its worth, consider the example of a deathstalker, also known as Leirus quinquestriatus. A gallon of the yellow scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus) costs $39 million.
Currently, some researchers are developing methods to speed up the process of scorpion milking. So far, they have developed a machine capable of extracting poison from several scorpions at the same time. Hence, scorpion venom is not only dangerous; it can make you a lot of money. Plus, it has proved to be a remarkable source of cure for several remedies. That is why it is becoming essential and expensive at the same time. The fact that it is only available in small quantities and at such a considerable cost is now compelling the scientists to produce these proteins in labs artificially.
Until Next Time,
Team Doctor ASKY!