Scorpion venom has shown some promise to slow the spread of brain cancer, say researchers.
Scientists at the University of Washington have revealed that combining nanoparticles with chlorotoxin, a small peptide isolated from scorpion venom, they could halt the spread of cancerous cells by 98 per cent, compared to 45 per cent for the scorpion venom alone.
"People talk about the treatment being more effective with nanoparticles but they don't know how much, maybe 5 percent or 10 percent. This was quite a surprise to us," said Miqin Zhang, professor of Materials Science and Engineering.
She revealed that the study involved mouse brain-cancer cells that were grown in the lab.
Her team observed that the cells containing nanoparticle-chlorotoxin combo were unable to elongate, whereas those containing only nanoparticles or only chlorotoxin could stretch out.
Based on their observations, the researchers came to the conclusion that the nanoparticle-chlorotoxin combo disabled the machinery on the cell's surface that allows cells to change shape, yet another step required for a tumor cell to slip through the body.
"We hypothesized the mechanism and we have all the data to prove our hypothesis," Zhang said.
She revealed that her team's future experiments would involve testing on mice.
A report describing the study has been published in the journal Small.