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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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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.