Scorpions may be feared for their poisonous stings but scientists in Cuba are researching the possibilities of using their venom as a treatment for cancer.
The toxins are believed to have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect and may even shrink tumours or inhibit their growth.
The state-run pharmaceutical company LABIOFAM Business Group has launched a homeopathic medicine, which researcher Niudis Cruz says “improves and alleviates the symptoms of cancer , such as pain, inflammation and loss of appetite, depending on the general state of their illness.”
Cuba is joined by the United States, Israel, Iran and China in researching the beneficial properties of scorpion venom.
The medicine is currently available for sale in certain Latin American countries and China. The product is still waiting approval in Europe.
Antonio Fraga, director of LABIOFAM Business Group is pleased by the consumer reaction to the product.
“In places where it isn’t on sale yet, people are coming here for it – in significant numbers,” he explained.
Cubans have now opened a series of scorpion farms across the country.
Full clinical trials are expected to begin shortly, according to officials in the Caribbean nation.