Have you heard about the world’s most expensive liquid? Would you believe it, if we told you that it is a venom and it costs a whopping $39 Million per gallon! Now if you are wondering why is this so expensive, it’s because of the medicinal properties that this venom holds.
We know that venom is the substance that drips from the creatures’ fangs and stingers lurking on the hiking trail or hidden in the cellar or under a woodpile. The toxin is combined with short strings of protein-like amino acids with toxic proteins and peptides.
Hundreds, even thousands, of toxins, some with redundant properties and others with new ones, can be delivered in a single bite of venom.
Poisonous molecules can have different targets and effects, but they function synergistically for the most effective impact. Some go to the nervous system, paralysing signals between nerves and muscles by blocking them. And others attack the cells and tissues and eat away the molecules.
It is a known fact that animals like snakes, spiders, certain fishes are venomous. But the first animal that comes to a person’s mind after venom is mentioned is a scorpion. The planet is known to have 1,500 species of scorpion, and only 30 of these contain venom that is poisonous enough to be lethal. One such highly toxic and dangerous species of scorpions is the ‘Deathstalker Scorpion‘.
Despite having the poisonous effect, it has medicinal properties. But if you’re still wondering if the cost of this venom is worth the price, then here’s what makes it so expensive!
Deathstalker Scorpion's Perilously Rare Venom
One of the world’s deadliest scorpions is the Deathstalker Scorpion which has a golden-yellow body, a relatively short tail, and a length of around 3-8 cm. It can be found in the North African and Middle East desert regions.
Its tail is packed with toxic venom. The sting of a poisonous stalker scorpion is excruciating and induces paralysis, an inability to move or feel part of the body. Even though the venom of Deathstalker has dangerous poisonous properties, the fun fact is that it is also one of the most expensive poison.
This stuff alone costs $39 Million per gallon! Even if one had the money to buy this, getting their hands on it is difficult as only tiny amounts of the venom are provided. A droplet that’s smaller than a grain of sugar will cost around $130. Just a few millimetres of poison is released at a time by most Deathstalkers, so obtaining the venom is also lengthy and risky.
Obtaining the Venom
After a scorpion sting, the pain you experience is instantaneous and intense. Within five minutes, any swelling and redness will generally occur. More severe and painful symptoms appear within an hour. Scorpions are typically milked by hand, one after the other, and only two milligrammes of venom can be obtained at a time at the most, which means squeezing 2.64 million times to create a gallon.
The Deathstalker scorpion catches its food by catching its prey by surprise. It hides under a rock waiting for cricket or another small insects, then springs out and grabs them. Since the Deathstalker scorpions’ pincers are not very powerful, it stings it quickly and kills it to prevent its prey from getting away.
What Makes This Venom So Expensive?
The venom of the Deathstalker scorpion contains chlorotoxin. Chlorotoxin is a peptide of 36 amino acids blocking small-conductance chloride channels. It binds to cancer cells by itself. Scientists can apply a dye that indicates that tumours are lit up and can be detected, separated, and treated with therapies, the cells to which the chlorotoxin is attached.
It makes it possible to identify and treat even small, newly developed tumours while making them easier to kill, significantly reducing the risk of cancer spreading and eradicating existing tumours. There has also been some evidence to demonstrate that other venom components may help control insulin and may be used to treat diabetes.
Medicinal Applications of the Venom
The founder of Venomtech, a US drug research company, Steve Trim, explains that being stung by a scorpion is 100 times more painful than a bee. Its venom contains a significant number of properties that can help to develop a great number of drugs.
In hopes of establishing more medicinal applications, scientists are also doing in-depth research on scorpions. Venom-squeezing machines that are four times faster than humans are also designed. At present, 25 species of scorpions are considered to be dangerous to humans.