Dealing with brain tumours can be tricky. Surgery is often the only way to remove the cancer, but the operations can be very difficult, requiring a steady hand and an expert eye to remove all of the tumour.
Dr Jim Olson, a paediatric oncologist and researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, has long been frustrated with the difficulties. He’s now helped develop a technique that could transform the way we fight tumours – all thanks to a scorpion’s sting.
Tumour Paint is a drug that attaches to tumour cells – and glows. This makes it a lot easier for surgeons to tell the difference between tumours and healthy cells. The paint is produced using peptides from the Deathstalker, a species of scorpion with a paralysing sting.
At the same time, Olson is pursuing other unconventional ways to tackle cancer. He set up Project Violet – named after a young cancer patient who donated her brain to science before dying – to raise money through crowdsourcing so that promising drugs spend less time in development.
Jim Olson spoke to BBC Future at SXSW Interactive in Austin Texas.