Why is it important?
Who would have thought that Scorpions could be providing useful antibiotics through their venom, something most would think of as a harmful substance. It was found that while testing the venom of a Mexican Diplocentrus melici scorpion, a previously studied venom, the venom could be split into two parts. The two types are called “Escherichia coli and Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria” and when separated they both have specific uses. One of the parts was red and the other blue, it was found that one part was good at killing Staphylococcus, and the other was good at combatting Tuberculosis. Due to these findings, the scientists saw parts of the venom as potential antibodies.
The two parts of the venom where both tested on rats. It was found that both parts respectively combatted the staph bacteria and the TB. The researchers, however, are skeptical as to whether the antibodies would work as well in humans, and how they would measure the correct amount to be administered to a human given that the substance is so difficult and/or expensive to obtain.
The High Pricetag:
“When electrical stimulation is used to “milk” the venom glands of scorpions, an average yield of anywhere from 0.006 mg to about 2.0 mg of venom can be obtained from a single scorpion.” Not a lot, right? But according to Scientific American, the “milk” from a single scorpion sells for about $10,300 per Milliliter, thats nearly $39 Million per gallon. The reason for its high price tag is its low quantity per scorpion and how inconvenient it is to extract the venom. Each scorpion also takes about two weeks to replenish its venom.
While the thought of administering scorpion venom as a medical treatment, in my opinion, sounds awesome, it may not be the most realistic method. The testing proves that it does work for combating TB and Staph microorganisms, however, the tests were done on rats. Until the venom can be said for certain to be effective for humans, and there is a MUCH cheaper cost, I’m not sure how feasible it is to treat people with scorpion venom.
Although using scorpion venom to fight against staph and TB, I agree with you that it way too expensive to use right now especially given that there hasn’t been enough research for its effects on humans yet. However, I found another use for scorpion venom that might prove to be more useful. It was discovered that a synthesized form of scorpion venom can be used to bind to brain tumor cells. It is attached to a fluorescent dye that helps doctors distinguish the tumor cells from the normal healthy cells. The scorpion venom has shown to be not harmful to the humans tested. More research has gone underway to see its effects on other types of cancers.