2016

How Scorpion Venom Is Helping Doctors Treat Cancer

How Scorpion Venom Is Helping Doctors Treat Cancer

Hunter Coffman was diagnosed with a brain tumor at Seattle Children’s when he was 2-years-old. While preparing for the surgery to remove the tumor, Hunter’s parents were also presented with the opportunity to enroll Hunter in Seattle Children’s Phase 1 trial of BLZ-100 Tumor Paint, a drug that scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington and startup Blaze Bioscience are using as a unique approach to performing brain surgery — fluorescent molecules, attached to naturally occurring toxins, including scorpion venom, that attach to the cancers and light them up. Dr. Amy Lee, the surgeon on Hunter’s case, described it as more of a tool, something extra she would use to aid the surgery, not a reinvention of the process. Inspired by its success, Dr. Jim Olson, who helped invent Tumor Paint, has imagined a host of other uses for similar technology, from targeting other cancers to Alzheimer’s treatment to arthritis, and is working quickly to make those uses a reality, too.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Foundation and Research Institute together deliver superior patient care, advance new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients. Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s Hospital specializes in meeting the unique physical, emotional and developmental needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Through the collaboration of physicians in nearly 60 pediatric subspecialties, Seattle Children’s Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitative, behavioral, and emergency and outreach services to families from around the world.

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention, bioethics and much more.

Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation and Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association work together to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care, clinical care and research. The foundation receives nearly 80,000 gifts each year, from lemonade stand proceeds to corporate sponsorships. Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, serving as the umbrella organization for 450 groups of people who turn an activity they love into a fundraiser. Support from the foundation and guild association makes it possible for Seattle Children’s care and research teams to improve the health and well-being of all kids.

For more information, visit seattlechildrens.org or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.