Scorpion protein could ease the sting of arthritis

One of the lead authors of the scorpion venom study, Fred Hutch staff scientist Emily Girard (center), says she hopes her work “results in a therapeutic that will help a lot of people.” (Fred Hutch News Service Photo / Robert Hood)

Scientists at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have identified a mini-protein in scorpion venom that can target joint inflammation in arthritic rats — and they’re hoping it can do the same thing for human patients.

It’s too early to say whether the technique will work as well in humans as it does in rats. But the experiments reported today in Science Translational Medicine hold the promise of delivering the benefits of steroid-based therapies for arthritis while avoiding the side effects that come with the use of those steroids.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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