Though the venom of some scorpions can deliver pain, and occasionally death, to humans, scorpion venom is used in a number of medical fields, including cancer research. Recently, for instance, scientists have developed an imaging technique that uses a synthetic version of a compound found in scorpion venom to make brain tumors easier to see.

Treating gliomas, a lethal kind of brain tumor, can be incredibly difficult. These tumors don’t respond well to conventional chemo or radiotherapy, and they tend to spread across a wide spectrum of brain tissue, making it difficult for surgeons to easily detect and remove all of the cancerous tissue.

By administering the compound from the scorpion venom to patients with gliomas along with a fluorescent dye, surgeons are able to identify the tumor more clearly, and thus, remove it more easily.The novel imaging technique is currently undergoing broader clinical trialing, including a study involving pediatric brain cancer, ahead of a hopeful FDA approval in the near future.