Bee Venom Could Be Cancer Cure

Bee Venom Could Be Cancer Cure

Many people avoid bees at all cost to avoid their painful stings. But according to a new study, bee venom could bring pleasure to researchers who are on a quest to find a cancer cure.

The study presented at the 248th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ASC) suggests bee, snake or scorpion venom could be used in cancer-fighting drugs without having a harmful effect on your health.

Injecting a person with pure venom could be very dangerous. It could cause blood clots, and more serious effects like damage to the heart and nerve cells. However, researchers found that separating the “useful” venom would not harm the body.

“We have safely used venom toxins in tiny nanometer-sized particles to treat breast cancer and melanoma cells in the laboratory,” study author Dipanjan Pan of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said. “These particles, which are camouflaged from the immune system, take the toxin directly to the cancer cells, sparing normal tissue.”

The venom protein and peptides targets the unhealthy cells, sparing the healthy ones. This suggests that it attaches to malignant cancer cells to block the growth and spread of the disease.

Researchers analyzed the venom of honeybees, finding that the substance melittin prevents cancer cells from multiplying. Melittin is one of the toxic peptides that are in a bee sting. The polypeptide contains proteins and lyses cell membranes.

Because the bees make very little melittin, a synthetic of the substance was created in the lab for further testing using nanotechnology. The researchers found that synthetic peptides honed in on malignant cells, eliminating growth while not being exposed throughout the bloodstream to cause harmful side effects.

The melittin stopped the growth of cancer stem cells. “That’s what we are interested in — those are the cells responsible for metastasizing and also responsible for having the cancer cells grow back,” Pan said. “If we can target better using this technique, we potentially have a better cancer treatment.”

The researchers plan to test the treatment on rats and pig in the next three to five years. Eventually the treatment could be used to stop the growth and spreading of cancer in humans.

Depending on the venom, which contains toxic proteins and peptides, there are different targets and health effects. Venom can kill a person because blood is blocked from going to the heart as a result from clots. But even though venom can be deadly, its properties also make it valuable for medicine. Heart disease and diabetes medications have already been created using venom. Venom targets specific molecules by fitting into them like a matching piece to a puzzle.

This is not the first time venom has been used in medicine. Ancient doctors used venom to treat a variety of illnesses and aliments. Greek writer Pliny the Elder wrote in 14 BC that bee venom was used as a cure for baldness.  Frog venom has been used to treat lung, colon and pancreatic cancer in Chinese medicine. Alternative medicine in Cuba, uses the venom of a scorpion to battle brain tumors.

Bee venom therapy (BVT) is used today as a form for alternative medicine. It s used to treat chronic diseases, including those associated with pan. These include: arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, bursitis, tendonitis, chronic injuries and neck or back pain. The dose of venom tells the brain that the problem area needs repair.

BVT increases circulation and stimulates muscles. The venom is injected into the skin similarly to acupuncture at the site of the targeted pain. The venom does not go deeper than the skin, to avoid harmful effects once it enters the bloodstream.

New treatments for autoimmune disease, pain and cancer using venom continue to be researched and could be available within a decade.