Scientists have received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use “Tumour Paint”, a product derived from scorpion venom for study in human trials in the US, in an effort to treat people suffering from brain cancer.
During the phase one trial, “Tumour Paint” will be used on an estimated 21 people with a glioma, or tumour in the brain or spine, ABCNews.com reported.
The product was developed by US-based Blaze Bioscience, a company dedicated to developing products that assist physicians in their quest to improve the lives of cancer patients.
“Tumour Paint” is designed to “provide real-time, high-resolution intra-operative visualisation of cancer cells, enabling better detection and more complete and precise surgical removal of cancer”.
It is created by utilising a protein derived from the paralysing venom of an Israeli death-stalker scorpion.
The re-engineered protein, which binds to cancer cells, is then joined with a fluorescent molecule “flashlight” that has been used safely in human surgeries for decades.
“It is really hard to get molecules into the brain due to the blood-brain barrier,” Jim Olsen, a brain cancer specialist at the Seattle Children’s Hospital who developed the product, was quoted as saying.
“Most drugs that are made by the drug companies cannot penetrate that barrier. The scorpion has found a way to get these proteins in the brain,” Olsen concluded.
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