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Scorpion venom may help stop the progression of arthritis

Scorpion venom may help stop the progression of arthritis New treatment for arthritis may involve scorpion venom.

Based on a study of rats, researchers have discovered a compound in deadly scorpion venom that may halt the progression of arthritis.

Iberiotoxin and arthritis.

While there is no way to prevent or stop the disease, a new treatment may help prevent the progression. Researchers have discovered that the venom from Indian Red scorpions contains a compound called iberiotoxin, according to Baylor College of Medicine.

This is important, because in some cases of rheumatoid arthritis, fibroblast-like synoviocyte (FLS) cells may be responsible for worsening symptoms. FLS cells can grow and spread, causing more damage as it goes.

"As they grow and move from joint to joint, they secrete products that damage the joints and attract immune cells that cause inflammation and pain" Dr. Christine Beeton, Baylor College of Medicine associate professor of molecular physiology and biophysics and study lead, said in a press release."As damage progresses, the joints become enlarged and are unable to move."

Researchers believe that blocking potassium channels on FLS cells would help prevent them from making arthritis symptoms worse. They hoped that iberiotoxin would block those channels and began to test the compound on rats that suffered from a form of rheumatoid arthritis.

After testing the treatment, it appeared that the compound successfully blocked potassium channels. In addition, some subjects noticed improvements in swelling and movement. More importantly, there were no adverse affects even though other potassium-blocking compounds resulted in incontinence and other side effects.

The results are promising and may offer the foundation for future human testing.

"Although these results are promising, much more research needs to be conducted before we can use scorpion venom components to treat rheumatoid arthritis," Dr. Beeton said. "We think that this venom component, iberiotoxin, can become the basis for developing a new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in the future."

What is the Indian Red scorpion? 
National Geographic considers the Indian Red scorpion one of the deadliest species in the world The Indian Red is small and stings only as a last resort. When it does, it can kill a human in 72 hours. 

Recent studies have suggested that the venom from these scorpions might help prevent the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. 

Scorpion on the sand.

Indian Red scorpions are small but deadly.

About 1.5 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, and women are more likely to be affected than men. There are more than 100 types of the disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is one version and is common in the elderly community. The immune system attacks a person's joints, causing swelling and pain when suffering from this affliction. The most commonly affected areas are the hands and knees. As the disease progresses, the joints can experience long-term damage, which prevents them from working properly. 

While certain medications manage the pain, and scorpion venom may be a future solution, there is currently no cure. Once individuals experience a loss of mobility, home healthcare providers can help assist with day to day functions.