Home pagePress monitoringHow scorpion venom is helping surgeons detect brain cancer

How scorpion venom is helping surgeons detect brain cancer

Date: 13.5.2019 

A new imaging technique designed to help surgeons identify the location of malignant brain tumors during surgery is showing promising early clinical trial results. The technique combines a new high-sensitivity near-infrared camera with a special imaging agent synthesized from an amino acid found in scorpion venom.

Kredit: Shantanu Kuveskar / Wikimedia Commons.Treating gliomas, a lethal kind of brain tumor, can be incredibly difficult. These tumors don't respond well to conventional chemo or radiotherapy, and they tend to spread across a wide spectrum of brain tissue, making it difficult for surgeons to easily detect and remove all of the cancerous tissue.

The new imaging technique is based around a novel compound called tozuleristide (BLZ-100), which is an optimized synthetic version of a peptide found in scorpion venom. The compound naturally binds to brain cancer cells, and researchers added a fluorescent dye so under near-infrared light the tumor cells become easily distinguishable from normal tissue.

"With this fluorescence, you see the tumor so much clearer because it lights up like a Christmas tree," explains Adam Mamelak, senior author on the new research.

This early clinical trial established BLZ-100 is safe, non-toxic, and effective in binding with brain tumors. Seventeen adult brain cancer patients were tested and the imaging compound was found to generate no adverse side effects, while effectively illuminating a majority of tumors.





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