Department of Chemistry
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

The Pleasure of a Scorpion Sting

Prof. Richard N. Zare

Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA

Date: September 11th 2019 (Wednesday)
Time: 4:30 PM
Venue: Committee Room (MS710), Chemistry Department, 6th Floor

Abstract: Development of new drugs from the venom of dangerous animals (spiders, snakes, scorpions, snails) has recently attracted much chemo-therapeutic interest. While most isolated and characterized venom components are found to be proteinic or peptidic in nature, I will report on two new 1,4-benzoquinone compounds, one red and another blue, derived from the venom of a rarely studied scorpion (Diplocentrus melici) indigenous to Mexico. After successful identification and synthesis of these compounds, the red and blue benzoquinones showed remarkable antimicrobial activities against Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, respectively. The observation that the blue compound is equally effective against normal and multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis while appearing not to affect the epithelium of lungs heightens its potential as a new drug candidate. This work is highly interdisciplinary as well as involving investigators geographically separated from one another by large distances. It required the skills and combined efforts of two other research groups. I am indebted to the research groups of Prof. Lourival D. Possani, Department of Molecular Medicine and Bioprocesses, Instituto de Biotecnologia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), Cuernavaca, Morelos 62210, Mexico, and that of Dr. Rogelio Hernández-Pando, Section of Experimental Pathology, Department of Pathology, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición "Salvador Zubirán", Tlalpan, México City 14080, México. All work at Stanford was performed by three Indian researchers in my laboratory, and this work has been recently published: E. N. Carcamo-Noriega, S. Sathyamoorthi, S. Banerjee, E. Gnanamani, R. Hernández-Pando, D. Mata-Espinoza, J. I. Veytia-Bucheli, L. D. Possani, and R. N. Zare, "1,4-Benzoquinone Antimicrobial Agents Against Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis Derived from Scorpion Venom," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. (US) 116, 12642-12647 (2019).

All are cordially invited to attend.
Convener (Seminar)