Skepticism, Medicine and Science News

How scorpion venom could be used to treat cancer

Venom from the scorpion Leiurus quinquestriatus (also known as Deathstalker) is being tested as a possible treatment for some types of cancer. 

Scientists have identified a peptide in the scorpions venom that will bind to the membranes of cancerous cells, but leave healthy cells alone. The reason for this is that the cancer cells have a specific receptor on their membranes that healthy cells don’t have. So the theory is that by attatching radioactive iodine isotopes to it, the peptide could deliver huge doses of radiation directly to the tumors. In a clinical trial with subjects with inoperable brain cancer, those who got the higher dose of the radioactive peptide lived, on average, 3 months longer than those who got a lower dose.

The scientists also just began a new clinical trial that will determine whether the peptide also could bind to secondary metastases, and not just the primary tumor. 

Sounds promising.


October 2, 2008 - Posted by | Medicine | , , , , ,

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