MAR 06, 2020 11:46 PM PST

Scorpion-derived Proteins Deliver Arthritis Treatment

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

New research published in the journal Science Translational Medicine shows that that a scorpion-derived proteins could soon provide relief for arthritis.  Although current therapeutics like steroids are effective, they hold unpleasant side-effects.

"For people with multi-joint arthritis, the side effects of controlling the disease can be as bad or worse than the disease itself," said the project's senior scientist Dr. Jim Olson, a member of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutch. "Steroids like to go everywhere in the body except where they're needed most. This is a strategy to improve arthritis relief with minimal systemic side effects."

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"My thought was that these peptides that are in venoms or toxins might have really unique biodistribution in human bodies," Olson said. "If something is using them for predation, they need to get to certain places rapidly."

After researchers discovered the mini-protein, they were eager to find a way to link it to drugs. Initially, they paired their peptide with a steroid called dexamethasone—but these accomplishments turned out to be ineffective because they cause the same side-effects as the original therapeutic steroid.

"It really shows the value of playing scientifically and just doing things for the pure joy of learning," Olson said. "You never know where it's going to take you. If we could relieve arthritis for millions of people with very few side effects, that's a really good investment of our time."

So investigators decided not to give up just yet and looked into another steroid called Triamcinolone acetonide, or TAA that is also ineffective in treating inflammation. Using studies on TAA, researchers discovered that when it enters the bloodstream—it becomes inactive and this does not display the side-effects seen with other steroids.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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