What is all the excitement about scorpion venoms?

Scorpions are an ancient group of arthropods who have evolved venom to subdue other invertebrates and even as an aphrodisiac in courtship. This potent cocktail of proteins peptides and other bio-molecules represents a wealth of new chemcial matter for drug discovery. As a result two of the top ten articles published in Toxicon are devoted to scorpion venoms as novel tools for drug discovery. Top of the list from Lourival Possani’s lab details molecular scaffolds for anti cancer and antimicrobial compounds Paper 1 here. The other review from Peter Strongs team at Sheffield Hallam University focuses in on the antimicrobial peptides (AMP’s) from these arachnids. In a world where nearly all our current antibiotics are all from fungal origins it is about time we investigate completely novel structures and mechanisms for controlling microbes in order to battle resistance paper 2 here.

in addition to these papers there is growing news of the tumour paint from the death stalker scorpion that is making it into clinical trials and veterinary medicine to allow surgeons to see cancer cells and therefore avoid damaging too much healthy brain tissue.