Scorpions are fascinating creatures which became residents of the planet well before human beings dwelled on Earth. Scorpions are always considered as a figure of fear, causing notable pain or mortality throughout the world. Their venoms are cocktails of bioactive molecules, called toxins, which are responsible for their toxicity. Fortunately, medical researchers have turned the life-threatening toxins into life-saving therapeutics. From Song Dynasty in ancient China, scorpions and their venoms have been applied in traditional medicine for treating neurological disorders, such as pain, stroke, and epilepsy. Neurotoxins purified from Chinese scorpion Buthus Martensii Karsch (BmK) are considered as the main active ingredients, which act on membrane ion channels. Long-chain toxins of BmK, composed of 58–76 amino acids, could specifically recognize voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs). Short-chain BmK toxins, containing 28–40 amino acids, are found to modulate the potassium or chloride channels. These components draw attention as useful scaffolds for drug-design in order to tackle the emerging global medical threats. In this chapter, we aim to summarize the most promising candidates that have been isolated from BmK venoms for drug development.
Part of the book: Medical Toxicology