Moroccan researchers have patented and created a prototype Ves4 robot that can extract venom from scorpions safely for both insects and humans. Development of the robot began at Hassan II University in Casablanca five years ago.
Ironically, scorpion venom is both the deadliest and most expensive (about $8,000 per gram) venom in the world. This poison is a potentially very important ingredient used in the development of new drugs for malaria and cancer.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 241 million cases of malaria were reported worldwide in 2020, killing 627,000 people. More than 10 million died from cancer.
The robot development process began in 2017. The researchers sought to find a way to extract the scorpion’s venom without having to touch the insect with their hands. Scorpion venom is currently extracted by hand, a dangerous and tediously slow process.
One of the team members, Omar Tannan, explained how the robot functions.
“Up to 35 insects are placed in it. After that, the robot applies a mild electric shock, causing the scorpions to release one drop of precious poison. The method is absolutely safe for animals,” explained Tannan.
The team’s robot was finally patented at the end of 2021. Further optimization of the prototype is now planned.