The scorpion Leiurus quinquestriatus lives in the Middle East and among the powerful cocktail of neurotoxins packed into its venom is a peptide that is non-toxic to humans but binds to tumour cells. In laboratory experiments, the peptide has invaded tumours in breast, skin, brain and lung tissue, but left healthy cells untouched. "It's as if the tumours collect it," Michael Egan of the company TransMolecular in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told the New Scientist.
"We show how using NMR spectroscopy for the analysis of a complex mixtures such as spider venom one can find new and entirely unexpected chemistry," said Prof Schroeder. "Our research shows that brown recluse venom contains important, previously undetected components that have been overlooked." ... The venom... contained messenger chemicals that work in the brain and on nerves. In addition, the venom has been shown to contain several different proteins, including enzymes such as hyaluronidase, deoxyribonuclease, ribonuclease, alkaline phosphatase, and lipase, which help to break down tissue, among other things.