SEP 15, 2017 07:10 AM PDT

Got Scorpion Milk?

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While they look fierce and are deadly, scorpions actually can play a role in fighting cancer. Research is ongoing into how scorpion venom can be used as a cancer fighting agent in a variety of applications, but getting the venom is not an easy process. Moroccan researchers at the Ben M'Sik Hassan University have developed a machine to extract or "milk" the deadly creatures and are now able to get venom much faster. Which is a good thing, because it's use in cancer research is becoming popular and an efficient way to get the substance is a key part of finding out if it can help patients. Previously, about 10 scorpions a day could be milked for venom. The machine, called VES-4, is able to extract venom from up to 150 scorpions a day.

The machine is remote controlled, because researchers don't want to risk being bitten. Trapping the tail of the scorpion, an electrical current is passed through a probe that stimulates the venom glands to pour the liquid into a safe storage container. The project has been in development for two years, because each species of scorpion is different and requires a precise voltage to be used. Too much electricity can kill them and that would be a waste of venom. Venom has a high price tag, going for upwards of $8000 per gram. The team is now working on mass producing the VES-4
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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