While many people understandably fear scorpions because of their venom and intimidating pinchers, scientists are finding that these scary-looking creatures can actually provide health benefits for humans.
Many studies have shown scorpion venom to be effective as a pain reliever and as a treatment for illnesses such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Now, researchers at Stanford University and in Mexico have discovered that a scorpion found in Eastern Mexico has a venom that could pack antibacterial properties.
Antimicrobial resistance is a fast-growing problem around the world. Health experts fear that common bacterial infections could soon become life-threatening if available antimicrobials no longer work against them.
Researchers are looking at toxins of snakes, scorpions, snails and poisonous animals to find new agents to fight off drug-resistant bacteria.
The recent study worked to isolate compounds present in scorpion venom and synthesized them in the lab to make synthetic chemical versions of the venom. The natural venom as well as the synthetic version of the venom were capable of killing bacteria like staphylococcus [staff-low-coccus] and also drug-resistant strains of the tuberculosis bacteria in the mice.
While the results are promising, there is a major hurdle. Scorpion venom is one of the most precious materials in the world, the scientists note, adding that a gallon would cost about $39 million to produce. That’s why they are so focused on identifying the crucial ingredients in the venom and producing it in a synthetic form.
Someday, we might carefully scoop up our scorpion friends rather than stomping them with a boot.