Thursday, July 8, 2010

Scorpion (venom) to the rescue

Another one of the unconventional methods, a new discovery, or whatever you may want to call it, but hey, so long as it works, who cares?

Just kidding. But this is one good news. A dreaded creature can be of help, somehow.

Read on...
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Scorpion venom might be brain cancer cure
By Channel NewsAsia's US correspondent Steve Mort


FLORIDA: Doctors in the United States are testing a possible breakthrough treatment for brain cancer.

Scorpion venom has been administered to dozens of patients at four hospitals after researchers found that the agent selectively attaches to tumour cells while sparing normal cells.

Patrick Brenner was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2003 and was given just months to live.

"It got to the point where my eyes went crossed or something and I finally went to the hospital and had an MRI, and they found that there was a sizable tumour," he said.

When traditional treatments, including chemotherapy, failed to stop Brenner's tumour from growing, he enrolled in a clinical trial at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute.

Doctors at the institute administered purified venom protein from the giant yellow Israeli scorpion to Brenner. The venom was tagged with radioactive iodine to deliver localised radiation to the tumour cells.

Now three years later, Brenner's doctor, Nick Avgeropoulos, said his patient has seen a ten-fold improvement in his prognosis.

"We don't have any other reason why he should be doing this well, except to say that it was this agent. Of course, like anything, an anecdotal story or an instance cannot be generalised to everyone, and that's why we do clinical trials. However, it's always encouraging to see that there's a possibility," said Dr Avgeropoulos.

Dr Avgeropoulos pointed out that while the most common cancer treatments kill healthy cells and are hard on the body, the scorpion venom only seeks out tumour cells and then attaches to them.

When combined with radioactive iodine, the venom can be used to attack the malignant cells.

The agent is delivered in weekly injections through a catheter in the patient's head.

"I think it's pretty amazing. I don't know if it's a miracle but it's definitely good medicine. And hopefully some other people can get some good out of this. I'm just happy to be alive. And if this is the rest of my life, I've accepted that," said Brenner.

Brenner is just one of the nearly 200,000 people in the United States diagnosed with a brain tumour each year, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.

His progress and that of other patients given scorpion venom are being followed closely.

The agent is performing well in studies on other types of cancer cells too, and the US Food and Drug Administration also has the treatment on a fast-track for approval. - CNA/ac


From ChannelNewsAsia.com; source article is below:
 Scorpion venom might be brain cancer cure
(There is a video in the link, in case you prefer watching to reading)
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