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Medicinal Uses for Common Animal Venoms

By Zach Gottlieb

Whether you’re talking about Spider-man’s archenemy or the deadly poisons that animals and insects use to kill their prey, venom most often conjures up negative thoughts. Spider bites, snakebites, bee stings: All of these frighten us, and it’s not only about the pain of getting bitten, but also the potentially harmful toxins. But as it turns out, some venoms may be actually be beneficial to human health. Venoms contain hundreds of different ingredients, some of which are not the harmful toxins we assume them to be. Venoms are extremely biologically active and these chemical concoctions provide a great natural resource for researchers to study different chemicals, some of which can be developed into drugs. From scorpions and spiders to snakes and bees, many other researchers are finding ways to bring out the positive in poison. Here’s a look at five recent examples of venom as medicine.

The deathstalker scorpion, native to North Africa and the Middle East, is highly dangerous because of its venom—a neurotoxin powerful enough to kill a child or elderly person, often by causing pulmonary edema.

Recently, Miqin Zhang, a materials scientist at the University of Washington, and her research team showed that a certain compound found in the venom of the deathstalker scorpion could help in the treatment of brain cancer.

Read the original article at: Popular Mechanics

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