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US Scientists Synthetize Scorpion's Venom

US Scientists Synthetize Scorpion's Venom

Thursday, 13 June, 2019 - 05:30
A worker removes a scorpion from a plastic container for venom extraction to produce homeopathic medicine Vidatox at LABIOFAM, the Cuban state manufacturer of medicinal and personal hygienic products in Cienfuegos, Cuba, December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
London - Asharq Al-Awsat

Researchers at Stanford University have managed to synthetize scorpions' venom, and said it contains two color-changing compounds that could help fight bacterial infection.

The team isolated the compounds in the scorpion's venom, synthesized them in the lab, and verified that the lab-made version of the venom killed staphylococcus and drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria in tissue samples and in mice.

In their study published in the June 10 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers highlighted the potential pharmacological treasures awaiting discovery in the toxins of scorpions, snakes, snails and other poisonous creatures.

Study senior author Richard Zare, professor of chemistry at the Stanford group, said: "By volume, scorpion venom is one of the most precious materials in the world. It would costs $39 million to produce a gallon of it. If you depended only on scorpions to produce it, nobody could afford it, so it's important to identify what the critical ingredients are and be able to synthesize them."

Zare worked with his colleague Lourival Possani from the National University of Mexico. The milked the venom by stimulating the tail with electrical pulses, then, they noticed that the venom changed color, one of the compounds turned red when exposed to air, while the other turned blue.

The researchers said they only had 0.5 microliters of the venom to work with, but the analysis of the compounds helped them making the new version.

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