A group of scientists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) discovered in the scorpion venom an antibiotic against tuberculosis, a disease for which 45,000 people die each day, the institution reported Monday.
According to the information, the experts of the Institute of Biotechnology isolated, produced and patented two compounds capable of combating strains of this disease and golden staphylococcus.
In addition, the substances are effective in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells without causing damage to lung tissue cells.
In 2016, the National Center for Preventive Programs and Disease Control (Cenaprece) reported 2,569 deaths from tuberculosis in Mexico, and 21,184 new cases throughout the country.
Veracruz, Baja California, Guerrero, Tamaulipas and Sonora are the most affected states.
The treatment against this disease lasts approximately six months, reason why the patients leave it.
Due to this, those affected generate resistant strains that require a greater amount of antibiotics and extend the medication for up to four years.
The new university compounds can help solve this problem, an important step from the point of view of public health.
“The work in the laboratory, with biological models, is already done and it works, now clinical trials in humans are required, and a pharmaceutical company that is interested can make this product reach people,” said researcher Lourival Domingos Possany Postay.
The first of the compounds discovered is red, and was called 3,5-dimethoxy-2- (methylthio) cyclohexa-2,5-diene-1,4-dione, which was shown to be effective against Staphylococcus aureus, bacteria causing skin infections, sepsis, endocarditis and pneumonia.
The second is blue and was called 5-methoxy-2,3-bis (methylthio) cyclohexa-2,5-diene-1,4-dione, effective against the mycobacterium that causes tuberculosis.
Both components are capable of preventing the development of certain lineages of neoplastic cells, and are efficient as antibiotics.
The researcher explained that because the amount of compound that can be obtained from live scorpions is very small, in the order of some micrograms, “it was essential to obtain them chemically.”
In order to synthesize them artificially, the support of post-docs was required from Richard Zare’s laboratory at Stanford University in California, where they determined the structure of both antibiotics using mass spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance studies.
The head of the study said that because they have been working on the antibiotic for several years they have already obtained the patent. (EFE) .-