Scorpion Venom a New Weapon in Fighting Cancer


Richard Moore

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Scorpion Venom a New Weapon in Fighting Cancer
By Dalia Acosta *

The 'medication' produced from this unique source 
is registered under the name Escoazul at the 
Cuban Office of Industrial Property, but it 
remains to be seen how it will be marketed 
because clinical trials are still underway.

HAVANA - The diluted venom of the blue scorpion 
has been used in Cuba as an anti-carcinogenic for 
more than a decade, though the scientific 
community is cautious about employing the 
formula, which is still in the research phase.

A queue of people can usually be found at the 
pharmaceutical laboratories Labiofam in the 
outskirts of Havana, waiting for the chance to 
try the product. It is provided free-of-charge if 
doctors determine it to be appropriate for the 
individual's case. Patients from abroad head to 
Labiofam as well, drawn by the success stories 
circulating about the venom.

''For the last year I have been taking 15 mm a 
half-hour before each meal to let the stomach 
absorb it. My last visit to the doctor showed 
that the tumor in my lung had disappeared,'' says 
Eva Gutiérrez, a 42-year-old woman from Venezuela.

There are many other testimonies like hers. In 
Jaguey Grande, 200 km from Havana, an adolescent 
girl, 14, was on the verge of death, her body 
invaded by cancer. Ten years later, she is a 
healthy woman with a normal life, though she has 
never quit the venom treatment.

The final product of the scorpion venom is 
registered under the name Escoazul at the Cuban 
Office of Industrial Property, but it remains to 
be seen if it can be more broadly marketed - it 
depends on the outcome of the clinical trials 

More than 3,000 people have participated in 
studies conducted in the province of Guantánamo, 
970 km east of Havana, and many individuals are 
receiving the ''medicine'' directly from the 
Labiofam laboratories.

The island's health authorities, however, are mum 
about the research and its preliminary results as 
a cancer treatment. Tierramérica's attempts to 
obtain official information proved fruitless.

But Misael Bordier, researcher at the Medical 
Sciences Faculty in Guantánamo and head of the 
team that created Escoazul, acknowledged that 
there have been satisfactory results.

''Although the percentage of patients who have 
recovered from their illnesses following 
treatment with the toxin is high, it is too early 
to raise hopes about a medication that is still 
in the experimental phase,'' stressed Bordier, 
who for seven years tested the preparation on 
white mice.

He said that Escoazul has been effective in 
treating a wide range of cancers, Parkinson's 
disease, pelvic inflammation and kidney problems.

The only official word on the product has come 
from the governmental National Information 
Agency, which has assured that the product is not 
harmful to human health and serves as an 
anti-inflammatory and stabilizer of the immune 

Escoazul is prepared from the venom of the blue 
scorpion, which is only found on the Caribbean 
island. There are 32 scorpion species in Cuba, 29 
of which are endemic, and some 1,600 known 
species worldwide.

Sources close to the research efforts told 
Tierramérica that Escoazul inhibits protease, an 
enzyme that acts as a membrane around different 
kinds of cancer.

''It is known that protease serves as a sort of 
habitat in which the tumor reproduces and 
expands, cell by cell. By impeding the formation 
of this membrane, the tumor halts its expansion 
and begins to break down,'' explained Venezuelan 
patient Gutiérrez.

That was the information she received in Cuban 
when she refused to begin chemotherapy in 
Venezuela and headed to the island-nation to get 
another opinion about the evolution of the cancer 
in her right lung.

In March 2000, she underwent surgery in which her 
thyroid and 10 ganglia were removed. At the 
Oncology Hospital of Havana, doctors confirmed 
the cancer diagnosis, but Gutiérrez heard about 
the scorpion venom from a leukemia nurse.

Gutiérrez's recovery since she began taking the 
venom has been amazing, she says. The doctors 
''do not necessarily recognize its virtues, but 
they tell you not to quit taking it.''

* Dalia Acosta is an IPS correspondent.
        *       Cuba Searches for an AIDS Vaccine

Copyright © 2001 Tierramérica. Todos los Derechos Reservados


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