From Toxin to Medicine
Botulinum toxin (botox) is now big business in health and fashion, but few may remember it derives from one of the deadliest substances known in nature. Other examples show that some forms of “natural evil” can be seen in a different light.
New Scientist featured a series of articles called “Drugs with bite: The healing powers of venoms.” If you are scared of snakes, scorpions and other nasty things, consider how they might save your life:
- Have hypertension? A new remedy called captopril comes from the bite of pit vipers.
- Worried about cancer? A chlorotoxin from scorpions shows promise for cancer treatment.
- Suffering from severe pain? A substance called Xen2174 from deadly cone snail venom offers hope.
- For multiple sclerosis or HIV, the venom of the deadly cobra is being looked at.
- Autoimmune diseases may find treatment from the stinging cells of sea anemones.
- Diabetes patients can be prescribed Exenatide, a drug from the bites of gila monsters.
These new drugs show that there’s more than one way to look at a scary creature.
A T. rex bite could also cure headache instantly. This subject should not minimize the harm from creatures to humans, but does point out two interesting possibilities; (1) toxins are just molecules with delivery methods that are not evil in themselves; (2) perhaps some of these substances originally had beneficial functions. Only Biblical creationists have an answer to “natural evil” – the original creation contained no suffering, and some day it will be redeemed. In the meantime, let’s continue to look for good uses for “bad” things out in nature.