Innovation That Matters

Scorpion venom has numerous potential medical uses | Photo source Engin Akyurt on Unsplash

A robotic system for extracting scorpion venom

Health & Wellbeing

The venom has applications in drug manufacturing and cosmetic products

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Spotted: It may sound counterintuitive, but venom has been used as a disease cure for thousands of years. And scorpion venom is particularly prized for its pharmacological properties. From cancer, to rheumatoid arthritis, to malaria – venoms from the many species of scorpion have therapeutic potential thanks to their complex cocktail of compounds. And, of course, you also need venom to create anti-serums for those unfortunate enough to be stung by the fiery arachnids.

These factors all contribute to strong demand for this unlikely asset – making it the most expensive venom in the world. But manual extraction of venom is difficult and—for obvious reasons—risky. And some existing methods are also harmful to the scorpions. This limits the extent to which venom production can be industrialised – until now.

A research team from the Hassan II University of Casablanca, has developed a new method for collecting venom using a network of automated conveyors. A central unit then extracts the venom using electrical discharges that are tailored to the individual species of scorpion. Venom droplets fall into a filling station and are collected through a pneumatic and vibratory system. The new process is faster, and its automated nature means that a manual operator is not required, making it risk free.

Work on automated venom extraction was first reported in 2017, but the University has recently received a patent for the robotic system, paving the way for its commercialisation.

Surprisingly, this is not the first time Springwise has covered the topic of venom and technology. Previous innovations have been focused on leveraging technology to deliver anti-venom to remote places. This includes a drone that delivers anti-venom to Amazonian communities. However, this is the first time we have seen technology being applied to venom production.

Written by: Matthew Hempstead



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