Honeybee venom can kill breast cancer cells in the laboratory, according to “incredibly exciting” research.
The poisonous substance’s potential for treating the disease was first report in a 1950 edition of the journal Nature, with scientists demonstrating venom reduced tumour growth in patients.
With interest into venom’s therapeutic effect booming in the past 20 years, a team from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Perth tested it on different types of breast cancer.
They found honeybee venom rapidly destroyed triple-negative and HER2-enriched breast cancer cells; the former of which is notoriously difficult to treat.
Honeybee venom contains a compound called melittin, which “destroyed cancer cell membranes within 60 minutes” by interfering with pathways the malignant tissue uses to replicate.
A specific concentration of the venom led to 100% cancer cell death, while having “minimal effects” on healthy tissue, according to the scientists.
“This is an incredibly exciting observation that melittin, a major component of honeybee venom, can suppress the growth of deadly breast cancer cells, particularly triple-negative breast cancer,” said lead author Dr Ciara Duffy.
“Significantly, this study demonstrates how melittin interferes with signaling pathways within breast cancer cells to reduce cell replication.
“It provides another wonderful example of where compounds in nature can be used to treat human diseases”.
Read more: yahoo