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Doctors Are Using Scorpion Venom to Remove Brain Tumors

Venom-based “tumor paint” is a fluorescent molecule that illuminates cancer cells, making it easier for surgeons to remove tumors.

Scorpion / Image: Alastair Rae
Scorpion / Image: Alastair Rae

Typically, humans try very hard to keep scorpion venom out of their bodies, but a new cancer treatment trend has surgeons doing the opposite. According to a recent FierceBiotech article, a company called Blaze Bioscience has developed a technology called “tumor paint” to improve the lives of cancer patients. Their first product, BLZ-100, is a drug administered via IV injection that circulates inside the body and illuminates cancer cells with near-infrared light.

Tumor paint is based on a “mini-protein” from the deathstalker scorpion that binds to cancer cells, but not normal tissue. It works in tandem with the Canvas Imaging System, which detects near-infrared light in the operating room. The system helps surgeons remove more tumor tissue without greater precision to ensure no healthy tissue is sacrificed. Blaze has begun a phase 2/3 trial that will test tumor paint on 114 patients with primary central nervous system tumors.

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