Can a Scorpion Help You with Your Brain Tumor?

Glioma brain tumors are often very challenging for surgeons because they can have an appearance similar to brain white matter.  Furthermore, these tumors can grow as small islands within brain tissue.  All of the above make surgical removal of gliomas difficult.  It now appears that scorpions could assist with removal of brain tumors.

Scorpions produce a fluorescent compound Tozuleristide which allows brain tumor cells to glow and, as a result, facilitate removal of the tumor by the surgeon.  In particular, researchers have developed a derivative of Tozuleristide, called BLZ-100, for clinical application in patients with brain cancers. 

“With this fluorescence, you see the tumor so much clearer because it lights up like a Christmas tree.”

Adam Mamelak, MD, senior author and investigator in the trial at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Mamelak and colleagues at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, recently reported their experience with BLZ-100 in Neurosurgery, called “Phase 1 Safety, Pharmacokinetics, and Fluorescence Imaging Study of Tozuleristide (BLZ-100) in Adults With Newly Diagnosed or Recurrent Gliomas”.  A cohort of 17 adult patients received BLZ-100 and were also monitored for 30 days after the surgery.  BLZ-100 was found to be safe in glioma surgery. It should be noted that since this was a phase 1 study, safety was the primary end-point.

“The technique in this study holds great promise not only for brain tumors but for many other cancer types in which we need to identify the margins of cancers.  The ultimate goal is to bring greater precision to the surgical care we provide to our patients.” 

Keith L. Black, a MD and the chair of Department of Neurosurgery

The next phase would entail a larger cohort of patients. 

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