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Antimicrobial properties found in scorpion venom
The study highlights the potential for other healing compounds to be identified in the toxins of scorpions, snakes, snails and other creatures. (Stock photo)
Compounds kill staph and drug-resistant TB bacteria - study

Scientists have discovered two healing compounds in scorpion venom that can kill staphylococcus and drug-resistant TB bacteria.

The scorpion, Diplocentrus melici (not pictured), is native to eastern Mexico and can only be found in the rainy season - it is buried during the winter and dry seasons. When researchers milked its venom, they noticed they it changed from clear to brownish in colour when exposed to the air.

Two chemical compounds were found to be responsible for the colour change, one of which turned red when exposed to air, the other blue. The compounds are two previously unknown benzoquinones, a class of ring-like molecules known to have antimicrobial properties.

Through much trial and error, the team - which comprised researchers from Stanford and Mexico - managed to synthesise the compounds. The red benzoquinone was particularly effective at killing staphylococcus bacteria, while the blue one was lethal to both normal and multi-drug-resistant strains of TB-causing bacteria.

Researchers said being able to synthesise the venom is highly important, as the amount of venom components that can be obtained from animals is extremely low.

The team are planning to work together in determining why the compounds are present in the venom and whether they can be transformed into drugs. Their findings have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Big Butterfly Count returns

News Story 1
 The world's biggest survey of butterflies is back for 2020!

Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count launches on Friday, 17 July and will run until Sunday 9 August. Members of the public can get involved by downloading the Big Butterfly Count App or recording results on a downloadable sheet available from bigbutterflycount.org/.

'It's a fantastic activity for people from three to 103 years and we'd encourage everyone to take 15 minutes in an appropriate outdoor space during sunny conditions to simply appreciate the nature around them and do their bit to help us understand butterfly populations,' said a Butterfly Conservation spokesperson. 

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News Shorts
New appointment at Dechra

Dechra Veterinary Products Ltd (Dechra) has announced a key appointment to support veterinary professionals across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Karen Hockley has been appointed as a telesales account manager and will provide the latest products, news and developments from Dechra. She joins the company from a large mixed practice in Northern Ireland where she was the branch manager.

Before that, Karen had worked for a multinational veterinary pharmaceutical company as a key account manager for Northern Ireland. She can be contacted at karen.hockley@dechra.com or 087 219 54 30.