Scorpion venom molecules could fight bacteria and cancer cells: UNAM

The scorpion "Diplocentrus melici" contains precursor substances of the antibiotic. (Photo: Cuartoscuro / Rodolfo Angulo)

One of the components of the venom also has the same level of protection against tuberculosis as the antibiotic Isoniazid, recommended by the WHO.

MEXICO, (November 29, 2021).- Researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico ( UNAM ), together with scientists from Stanford University and the Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition, discovered, isolated, and synthesized two new antibiotic molecules from the venom of a species scorpion, which has properties to kill bacteria that cause skin infections, pneumonia, and tuberculosis, as well as stop the growth of malignant tumor cells.

The study headed by Lourival Domingos Possani, an academic at the Institute of Biotechnology (IBt) of the Maximum House of Studies, detailed that it is about “benzoquinones ”, a yellowish pigment with healing properties that is found in arthropods, fungi, and plants.

“They are antibiotics that are not as such in the scorpion, it has substances that are precursors of the antibiotic. When we remove the venom from the scorpion, upon contact with atmospheric air, oxygen modifies the precursor and makes the color of the venom appear ”, he explained.

The research was carried out from the isolation of the components and they were identified with red and blue color to determine their structure.

The new molecules were extracted from the venom of the scorpion “Diplocentrus Melici” , from the state of Veracruz and were chemically characterized by magnetic resonance imaging, with the help of Stanford University, according to a statement from UNAM.

“The blue component is as good at preventing infection as Isoniazid, the main antibiotic recommended by the World Health Organization for the treatment of tuberculosis,” Possani said.

The team of researchers tested the powerful antibiotics on animal models and cell cultures and concluded that it kills Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (which causes pneumonia, skin infection, and other diseases) and stop the growth of cancer cells. For its part, the Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition (CDMX) determined that they are a good drug to suppress tuberculosis.

The project is currently in the process of patenting antibiotics in our country and later in the United States, Europe, South Africa, and China.

According to Domingos Possani, once the licenses are up and running, the benefits will be divided between UNAM, Stanford University and the Instituto Salvadór Subirán.

“Now, what remains is to find a pharmaceutical company that is willing to invest to do the clinical trials. Once approved by the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks, preclinical tests have to be done in various types of animals (we already did it with mice) to demonstrate that it does not harm, and then carry out the clinical phases to be able to use it in humans, ” he concluded.

The research obtained second place in the 9th edition of the program for the Promotion of Patenting and Innovation, organized by UNAM.


 Source: El Universal



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