For centuries, the desert-dwelling arachnids known as scorpions have been seen as creatures of dark repute. Their form is alien-looking to most humans, giving an air of otherworldliness. The secretive nature of the species has kept most humans from observing them thoroughly. Even if there were those who knew where to look, the venom in the scorpion's stingers often sent fools scampering for pain relief within seconds of being stung. There are also the unlucky who suffer from agonizing pain and slow torment until the venom takes its course and leaves them dead. However, there are more aspects to the scorpion and its venom than pain and the need for pain relief and anti-venom.
Scorpions, like most venomous creatures, are the source of the cures to the very ills they cause. The best pain relief and antidote to scorpion venom is not some random medication, but anti-venom derived directly from the scorpion's own lethal mix. One particular scorpion's venom, however, is being studied very closely by some medical research groups. The Deathstalker, also known as the Israeli Desert Scorpion, is easily the most venomous scorpion in the world. The venom is a potent neurotoxin that causes intense pain, usually due to muscle spasms, and slow failure of the entire nervous system. The venom is surprisingly only rarely lethal in humans, unless a person is stung and gets extreme amounts of the poison. However, researchers have also found that the venom might have some use in medicine, quite ironically, to save lives.
The first possibility stems from the discovery that Deathstalker venom was found to be effective pain relief for cancer patients. It is unknown what specific component of the venom is interacting with the cancerous cells, but testing has shown that patients have shown that the pain is not as intense if the venom was applied. However, researchers are still attempting to eliminate all of the other possible factors, especially since the venom usually causes pain in patients without cancerous cells.
A related field of research to the one above is being conducted in the effects of the venom on people with brain tumors. There is a compound in the Deathstalker's potent venom, the peptide chlorotoxin, that has shown potential in being used as a treatment for brain tumors in humans. The toxin compounds combine with the damaged cells and the components that cause the tumors, weakening them such that simple exposure to radiation can remove what's left. The idea is still being put through extensive testing, but if the tests prove to be successful and the synthetic (and non-lethal) version of the venom proves to be just as effective as the real thing, it might see frequent use. The procedure for using it, according to estimates, would really be as simple as injecting a solution of the compounds into the patient's head.
Finally, researchers have found that Deathstalker venom, or certain components within it that may or may not be possible to synthesize, can help control insulin levels. There is still much research being done to determine just what in the venom has this effect, as well as all the possible effects it could have on a person's insulin levels. Still, there is quite a bit of optimism tied to the project, mostly because there is the possibility of using a synthetic form of the venom to treat diabetes.