Scientists have developed a new lightweight and portable robot that can extract venom from scorpions which may be used in medical applications such as anti-malarial drugs and cancer research. The scorpion-milking robot could replace the traditional manual method which can be potentially life-threatening, researchers said.
“This robot makes venom recovery fast and safe,” said Mouad Mkamel from Ben M’sik Hassan II University in Morocco. “The extraction of scorpion venom is a very difficult task and usually takes at least two experimenters,” said Mkamel.
“There are numerous risks including potentially deadly scorpion stings and electric shocks from the stimulators used to extract the venom,” he said. Mkamel created the VES-4 device to be a lightweight and easily portable robot for researchers both in the lab or the field.
“It is designed to extract scorpion venom without harming the animal and to provide more safety for the experimenters,” said Mkamel. Current scorpion-milking methods are either dangerous, unreliable or harmful to the animal.
This robot milks the scorpions by clamping the tail and electrically stimulating the animal to express droplets of venom, which is then captured and safely stored. “VES4 could be used by one person using a remote control to safely recover scorpion venom remotely,” said Mkamel. The robot has been tested on multiple species of scorpions and can be programmed to adjust remember specific settings for different species, while the LED screen allows users to display the name of the species currently being milked.