Scorpion venom can be used to treat viral infections and cancers?

An interesting study has yielded remarkable results on this issue

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Scorpion venom can be used to treat viral infections and cancers?
© Handout / Handout Getty Images

Scorpion venom is used primarily for capturing prey and is made up of complex mixtures of neurotoxins, consisting mainly of proteins and sodium and potassium cations, but each species has its own unique mixture. Scorpion venom is primarily aimed at blocking the activity of other arthropods and is therefore generally harmless to humans, and a sting may produce only localized effects. However, some scorpions, mainly from the Butidae family, can be very dangerous to humans.

Among the most dangerous species are Leiurus quinquestriatus, which has the most potent venom in its family, and members of the Parabuthus, Tityus, and Androctonus genera. The venom of these scorpions has rarely been lethal, as these animals are generally unable to inject enough venom to kill a healthy adult. Scorpions usually try to flee from danger or remain immobile. It is not known exactly whether they store venom, but it is often used only if they are unable to subdue their prey with their two claws. Many genera of scorpions rarely use their venom, relying instead on their powerful pedipalps.

Scorpion© Handout / Handout Getty Images

But scorpion venom peptides can be synthesized and used to treat certain diseases and ailments in humans.

The researchers of the study Scorpion venom peptides: Molecular diversity, structural characteristics, and therapeutic use from channelopathies to viral infections and cancers, published in the Pharmacological research, explained:

"Animal venom is an important evolutionary innovation in nature. As one of the most representative animal venoms, scorpion venom contains a highly diverse set of bioactive peptides. Scorpion venom peptides are not only venoms that immobilize, paralyze, kill, or dissolve prey, but also become important candidates for drug development and design. Here, the review focuses on the molecular diversity of scorpion venom peptides, their typical structural characteristics, and their multiple therapeutic or pharmaceutical applications in channelopathies, viral infections, and cancers. In particular, the group of scorpion toxins TRPTx that target transient receptor potential (TRP) channels is systematically summarized and worthy of attention because the TRP channels play a crucial role in regulating homeostasis and disease in humans. We also further establish the potential relationship between the molecular characteristics and functional applications of scorpion venom peptides to provide a research basis for modern drug development and clinical utilization of scorpion venom resources."