Predator or Protector?

Poison, toxins, and venom. The initial thought may associate these things with danger, peril, and death. What if you were told that all these things might soon be contained in most of the syringes of a hospital, in the IV bags of the emergency rooms, and in the iconic orange cylinders.

While it may seem absurd, the utilization of many toxins and venoms is common in the field of medicine. In fact, many of the drugs in chronic pain medicines have already mixed venoms from cone snails. The secret to this mystic medicine is in pain receptor pathways of our body. A common channel in mammals is known as the Nav1.7. Signals sent from a damaged part of the body travel through this channel on their way to the brain. Mutations in this channel cause genetic disorders that inhibit all sensation of pain. Nevertheless, researchers have found similar symptoms in the presence of spider venom. The peptides in the venom have capabilities to hinder the pathways and constraint the Nav1.7. After observing its techniques, venom seems to provide evidence of therapeutic benefits. Yet, scientists and researchers attempted to amplify these neurotoxin serums. The continual use of enzymatic venom may characterize a concrete and alternative medicine to one of the deadliest diseases – cancer.

The uncontrolled, mitotic cell division in the human body takes millions of lives. Based on previous statistics and past cancer studies, The American Cancer Society predicts “an estimated 1,688,780 new cancer cases diagnosed and 600,920 cancer deaths in the US.” In an act of desperation, scientists have looked past radiation and chemotherapy and toward the possible effects of snake, scorpion, and spider venom. For instance, the application of the deathstalker scorpion venom has already undergone clinical research by Dr. Jim Olson and his team and is FDA approved for brain cancer patients. The chlorotoxin acts as a “Tumor Paint”, binding to tumor cells and aiding in the MRI scans of a patient’s brain. However, even as a benefit for cancer, researchers desire to develop the uses and to, hopefully, treat the disease rather than solely identify the location. Scientists have studied how to manipulate the saliva of these arachnids and reptiles to cancerous cells – they hope to eradicate the cells without affecting nearby normal cells through promotion of apoptosis, inhibition of metastasis, and restriction of tumor cell colonization.

Based on limited research, it is reasonable to say that the venom serum for cancer is still undeveloped. The possible inhibitor of cancer is not yet ready to be utilized by patients, but the application of venomous creatures is considered. Soon, however, scientists may characterize lethal predators as the ultimate life-saver.

About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

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