A molecule present in scorpion venom could be used to transport drugs to the brain. Today about 98% of the drugs that may be useful in neurology can not be used.
Giant yellow scorpion from Israel
Researchers at the Laboratory of Peptides and Proteins of the Biomedical Research Institute of Barcelona have once again shown that scorpions have a lot to contribute to science. In the journal Chemical Communications, a small protein (a peptide) derived from chlorotoxin, found in yellow scorpion venom (Israeli scorpion yellow yellow), could revolutionize neurological treatments.
The protein is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, which is responsible for preventing the passage of toxic substances into the brain. This natural hurdle that protects our nervous system from many threats is also a problem because when it comes to drug use it makes it difficult for many drugs to get to the brain. Up to 98% of the drugs that could be useful can not be used because they can not overcome this barrier, "says the head of the laboratory, Ernest Giralt, in a statement.
Researchers have reported that they have chemically synthesized chlorotoxin and a series of analogs of a shorter length and simplicity that retain some of the properties of the original peptide. They evaluated the efficacy of the cellular models of the haemato-encephalic barrier they had in the laboratory and proved that the peptide called MiniCTX3 is capable of transporting compounds of a "high efficiency" nature by this barrier.
Animal poison for the brain
This type of molecules are known as peptide transfers. Before discovering this protein in scorpion venom, the same group identified a similar one in bees. Our aim is to help the drugs reach the brain and that is why we join the peptides designed to cross the blood-brain barrier, "said Meritxell Teixidó, research associate and co-leader of the paper." Only two or three groups of the world explores the transfer peptides, we work with different strategies and one is that of the poisons, "added Giralt.
"There are thousands of described poisons containing millions of peptides with the potential to become shuttle, we have chosen chlorotoxin because it has already been described as acting as a toxin in the brain," Teixido said.