A unique molecule present in the venom of Honeybee can Kill Breast Cancer Cells, a study hints

The honeybee is one such fascinating flying insect that plays a great role in developing the social environment and also giving us some natural nutritious food. Most people associate bees with honey or pollen. But another bee product – bee venom remains unnoticed and has been researched over the years. The bee uses its pointy weapon to inject the venom, thereby creating unusual pain, but it could be more than just a nuisance. It has got several medicinal properties, which makes the researchers focus on this particular topic.

Honeybee (Apis mellifera) venom is effective in treating eczema and also able to inhibit tumor cells. Even before 1960, reports were stating that the venom could reduce the growth of tumors in plants. Recently, the scientists worked in the lab and showed that the bee venom could kill a Breast Cancer Cell in just 60 minutes, with the least harm to the normal body cell.

The study

Researchers used the venom of 312 honeybees and bumblebees from Australia, Ireland, and England to the different types of breast cancer, including triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). It is the aggressive form of breast cancer with fewer treatment options and is more likely to recur after treatment. On analyzing the potential effect of the venom, they identified that the bumblebee venom, which doesn’t contain melittin but has other anti-cancerous agents, had not had a significant effect on the breast cancer cell. But the honey bee venom is extremely potent in reducing the tumor growth within 60 minutes.

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It is mainly due to the component melittin, which makes half of the venom of the honeybees. They secrete this 26-membered polypeptide as a result of resisting their own pathogens in the system. The molecular underpinning of how it acts is still poorly understood. TNBC cell produces more amount of the EGFR molecule than that of the normal cell, which is encountered by the melittin substance. To prove that this specific component is responsible for such outstanding results, researchers had the strategy to block the melittin by use of an antibody. When they did, they saw the cancer cell survived and produced various signaling molecules. Hence, they declared that the melittin kills a cancer cell by interfering with some signaling pathways such as EGFR and HER2.

The most important outcome is that they do not harm much of the host cells. With this idea, they also created the synthetic melittin in favor of using it as a medicine and successfully proved. Also, they try to experiment with the substance in combination with the chemotherapy drug (docetaxel) in mice. It showed the potential ability of the combined drug to reduce the levels of a molecule used by the tumor cell to avert the immune response. This study was on the journal Nature Precision Oncology.

This groundbreaking research may be useful in treating other cancers too. The researchers cautioned that its use to the humans would take several years as it was just successful in the Petri-dishes. Let’s hope that we will get some efficient anti-tumorous medicine soon.

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Source: Science Alert

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