The cure for cancer in blue scorpion venom?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

scorpions
Could a cancer treatment be hiding inside these little guys?

It’s amazing how many creatures in the animal kingdom use venom to hunt their prey. However, some poisons can actually be beneficial for humans, like those found in the red-headed centipede. Now, researchers from the Dominican Republic have figured out another unique venom-based treatment, using scorpions to fight cancer!

The medicine in question is called “Escozine,” and its only active ingredient is blue scorpion venom. According to Medolife, the company that makes the drug, its effectiveness boils down to a single protein called “chlorotoxin.” Usually, this substance is used to paralyze and kill prey, but it just so happens to target cancer cells in the body. The company claims that Escozine is a “natural medicine approved and certified for oncological treatments,” or cancer therapies. However, not all medical professionals are sold on this natural remedy.

“There’s no reasonable scientific evidence to show that this drug works in treating patients with cancer,” said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the deputy medical director of the American Cancer Society. The Food and Drug Administration is on his side too, since they banned the scorpion-devised medicine from being sold in the US.

Of course, people can have Escozine shipped directly to them from the company, but Lichtenfeld strongly recommends against it. He’s seen too many “natural medicines” cause more harm than good. “Cancer patients have enough to deal with,” he said. “To have to deal with unverified, undocumented hope is a burden that no one should have to bear.”

Featured image courtesy of Paintik on Wikipedia.