Honeybees kill aggressive cancer cells - Study - Seeker's Thoughts

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Honeybees kill aggressive cancer cells - Study


For the thousands of years bees are renowned for their role in providing high-quality food – honey, royal jelly and pollen, and other products used in healthcare and other sectors beeswax, propolis honey bee venom.

For the first time, researchers have discovered a molecule found in bee venom can suppress the growth of nasty cancer cells.

The study has shown a progressive and positive result on certain types of breast cancer, including triple-negative breast cancer, which is an extremely aggressive condition with limited treatment options.

According to the scientist’s honeybee venom and its active component, melittin, are toxic to a wide range of tumors – including melanoma, lung, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers in laboratory tests. But how it works against tumors at a molecular level isn’t fully understood.

Bees use melittin – it is kind of molecule that makes up half of their venom and makes their stings really hecking painful – to fight off their own pathogens. The insects produce this peptide not just in their venom, but in other tissues too, where it’s expressed in response to infections.

Researchers grew cancer cells and normal cells to honey bee from Ireland, England, and Australia, and to bumblebee (Bombus Terrestris) venom from England.

What they found?

Researchers found bumblebee venom- which doesn’t contain melittin but has another potential cell killers – had little effect on breast cancer cells, however; the honeybee venom from all locations did make a difference.

According to the researcher Ciara Duffy – the venom was extremely potent. And found that melittin can completely destroy cancer cell membranes within 60 minutes.

When melittin was blocked with an antibody, the cancer cells exposed to the bee venom survived – showing that melittin was indeed the venom component responsible for the results in the earlier trials.

The most amazing part is melittin had little impact on healthy cells, specifically targeting cells that produced a lot of EGFR and HER2, which are another molecule excessively produced by several breast cancer types, it even messed with the cancer cells’ ability to replicate.

Western Australia’s Chief Scientist Peter Klinken said – this study demonstrates how melittin interferes with signaling pathways within breast cancer cells to reduce cell replication.

How scientists confirm the success of this research?

According to Ciara Duffy the research team also produced a synthetic version of melittin to see how it would perform compared to the real deal.

They found that the synthetic product mirrored the majority of the anti-cancer effects of honeybee venom.

They tested the action of melittin paired with chemotherapy drugs in mice. The experimental treatment reduced the levels of a molecule the cancer cells use to evade detection by the immune system.

Conclusively they found that melittin can be used with small molecules or chemotherapy, such as docetaxel, to treat highly aggressive types of breast cancer, “the combination of melittin and docetaxel was extremely efficient in reducing tumor growth in mice.

Other types of cancers, like lung cancer might be treated, and these positive results suggest they have potential targets for melittin, too.

Researchers stated that there still a long way to go before this bee venom molecule could potentially be used as a treatment in humans.

How insect weapon provides brilliant examples of chemical found in nature that could turn out to be useful for human diseases as well. We must secure such a beautiful creature from extinction, and honeybees are facing significant health threats of their own.


Research published in – nature precision Oncology



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