Research in Alabama - scorpions fight cancer at UAB

April 10, 2008
work science uab

Medical researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have discovered a new use for scorpion venom – cancer medication. Each year, some 9,000 Americans are diagnosed with malignant glioma, a form of brain cancer that kills about half its victims within a year of diagnosis.

Glioma cells work a lot like cockroach muscle cells. And while that fact is pretty disgusting, it also got UAB researchers thinking about the giant Israeli scorpion, whose venom is harmless to humans but deadly to its cockroach prey.

Doctors found that when they injected a drug derived from the venom of giant Israeli scorpions into cancer-infected human brains, the poison destroyed the glioma cells and left surrounding, healthy cells alone. The treatment is still in the early stages of development, but researchers remain optimistic.

See the rest of the article on deadly animals that might save your life at Mental Floss.