A robot capable of extracting scorpion venom without human intervention has been patented by Moroccan scientists. This innovation removes the hazard of extracting the venom manually.
The scientists from Hassan II University, Casablanca, creators of the “VES4” robot, state that the innovation allows for the fast and safe extraction of the venom. The venom is used by scientists for new medicines to combat diseases such as cancer and malaria.
Thirty-five scorpions can be positioned inside the robot at one time, which is automated to apply an electric charge causing each scorpion to release one drop of the white venom, described Omar Tannan, a member of the study team.
He emphasized that the small charge does not harm the scorpions.
The drops of venom are collected in a glass tube, explained Tannan.
The antenna and vibratory system operating the robot facilitates the recovery of venom beads collected in the pipes, ensuring a totally automated process.
Omar Tannan, Study Researcher, Hassan II University
Five years ago, the team designed the robot as part of a Ph.D. dissertation by scientist Mo’az Mokammel. They aimed to build a lightweight device that could be used inside or outside the lab and on all varieties of scorpions.
Besides making the extraction process safe for humans, they said it will make the method a lot more efficient. Extracting one gallon of venom using the traditional technique would usually require approximately 2.64 million scorpions.
Scorpion venom, referred to as the golden liquid, is said to be one of the world’s most expensive venoms, with one gram costing US$8,000. Its components possess numerous therapeutic applications, such as the manufacture of antitoxins and treatments for cancer and malaria.
The team has also produced a guide to Morocco’s scorpions, which maps out where they are located and categorizes them based on the level of toxicity.
Promoting this innovation will allow transferring research results to the production sector, opening doors for funding opportunities.
Anass Kettani, Dissertation Supervisor, Hassan II University
The patented robot can, at present, be manufactured, he explained, but will need some enhancements and investment to move it from the lab to the market.
Tannan highlights that the machine is just a prototype and will require modifications at the production stage.
The team has not calculated the expenses, but Abdelhaq Omani, intellectual property and valorization director at the Moroccan Foundation for Advanced Science, Innovation and Research, said: “It wouldn’t need a high cost.”
He stresses that operating the robot would necessitate knowledge of how to handle scorpions, as well as grasping the process of positioning the scorpions inside the robot, but otherwise, the method is totally automated.
The robot is unique, says Omani, in the way it can modify the amount of electric charge required, without harming the scorpion.