Science Reporting

Mexican scorpion venom contains compounds that kill staphylococci and tuberculosis bacteria

A team of researchers found that the venom of a scorpion from Mexico contains two compounds that could help fight human bacterial infections. The researchers, who published their work on Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, also claim to have isolated these compounds and managed to synthesize them in the laboratory after analyzing them.

Even the laboratory-created versions were able to kill bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and drug-resistant bacteria for tuberculosis in tissue samples from mice. The discovery is, of course, interesting as regards possible attempts to create drugs based precisely on these two compounds found in the venom of the scorpion Diplocentrus melici.

Among other things, it is an animal that is difficult to find and identify because for most of the year, during the winter of dry seasons, “it is buried and we can only find it in the rainy season,” as reported by Lourival Possani, professor of molecular medicine at the National University of Mexico who signed the study with senior author Richard Zare.

Among other things, the fact that they were able to synthesize these compounds in the laboratory is a fundamental step: if these compounds should have been taken only from the venom of the scorpion, produce a gallon (less than four liters) would have cost 39 million dollars, as reported by Zare himself.

The compounds found in the venom of scorpions are two new benzoquinones, previously unknown, a class of molecules with a ring shape already known for its antimicrobial properties.