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Research Update – Medically Useful Proteins Found in Scorpion Venom

Scorpion venom has recently undergone an image upgrade…once feared, these little-studied toxins are now yielding valuable medicines. Researchers at China’s Wuhan University have recently (August, 2009) discovered 9 new types of peptides and proteins in the venom of Scorpiops jendeki, a scorpion native to southwestern China.

Current Research

Although considered only mildly toxic, S. jendeki’s venom is quite complex, containing at least 19 different proteins. Scientists believe that these molecules may be useful in synthesizing new drugs. Newly discovered molecules, which may attack cells in novel ways, are always looked upon with great interest by medical researchers working with incurable diseases and drug-resistant microbes.

Role for a Deadly Scorpion

In recent years, even the much-maligned “death stalker” or Israeli yellow scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus) is being treated with new respect in the lab – an irradiated version of a protein in its venom shows great promise in the treatment of brain cancer.

Further Reading

You can read more about current research involving scorpion venom and brain cancer at http://www.nano.org.uk/news/april2009/latest1847.htm.


About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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