Scorpion tags tumors

Fluorescence indicates chlorotoxin binding to medulloblastoma cells in a mouse (right). Credit: Image by Mandana Veiseh, courtesy of AACR" />Fluorescence indicates chlorotoxin binding to medulloblastoma cells in a mouse (right). Credit: Image by Mandana Veiseh, courtesy of AACR Within minutes after being stung by the scorpion known as the deathstalker (Leiurus quinquestriatus), weakness starts to kick in. The feeling quickly spreads, paralyzing its prey (typically insects) for hours -

Amy Coombs
Oct 1, 2007
<figcaption>Fluorescence indicates chlorotoxin binding to medulloblastoma cells in a mouse (right). Credit: Image by Mandana Veiseh, courtesy of AACR</figcaption>
Fluorescence indicates chlorotoxin binding to medulloblastoma cells in a mouse (right). Credit: Image by Mandana Veiseh, courtesy of AACR

Within minutes after being stung by the scorpion known as the deathstalker (Leiurus quinquestriatus), weakness starts to kick in. The feeling quickly spreads, paralyzing its prey (typically insects) for hours - just enough time for the scorpion to enjoy dinner. The deathstalker is among the world's most poisonous scorpions, and while humans usually recuperate from its nasty sting, the venom can prove fatal to children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Which makes its newly proposed clinical benefits all the more surprising.

In 1983, Gary Strichartz, a Harvard anesthesia researcher, began testing the effects of toxins within deathstalker venom. Spider and scorpion venom usually induce paralysis in prey by blocking ion channels involved in muscle contraction, so he hoped that venom proteins would act on sodium channels...