Future Painkiller: Scorpion Venom?

Study sees potential applications as it can locate human pain receptors
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2013 11:57 AM CST
Future Painkiller: Scorpion Venom?
Scorpion venom may end up helping relieve pain.   (Shutterstock)

Scorpion venom could someday turn from threat to therapy. Researchers in Australia are investigating the chemical properties of the stuff after collecting 1,500 of the poisonous critters and extracting their venom. "Because they have been isolated in Australia for so long, their venom is very different to the venom that has been intensively studied for scorpions elsewhere in the world, making them very novel bio-resources," scientist Bryan Fry tells the Sydney Morning Herald.

Scorpion venom can locate human pain receptors, the paper explains, which could help researchers develop treatments that bind to those receptors. "If we can understand how (scorpions) are causing the pain, we can use it to treat pain," Fry says. Though scorpions have been around for some 400 million years, the venom of many species has largely been ignored. Scorpions' poison could also potentially be used in agriculture, as spider toxins already are, Fry says. (But getting bit by a scorpion can still prove really costly, as one Arizona woman found out.)

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