Lab studies have discovered that the active component in honeybee venom successfully destroyed 2 types of breast cancer cells which are very challenging to treat.
The toxin left the healthy cells intact. For thousands of years, we’ve used honey, propolis, and venom from the honeybee Apis mellifera as medicines.
Recently, scientists have also concluded that the active component melittin is toxic to several tumors, including lung, ovarian, melanoma, and pancreatic cancers.
What Is Melittin & How Does It Help in Cancer Treatment?
Melittin is the molecule which causes the painful sensation from the sting of bees. But, scientists don’t completely understand the process through which it destroys the cancerous cells.
For the first time, they’ve researched its effect on several breast cancers, including two of the most aggressive and difficult for treatment.
Unfortunately, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women.
The two aggressive types, that is, the triple-negative and HER2-enriched, are known to have the poorest outcome and tend to develop resistance to current treatments.
New Research Showing the Power of Honeybee Venom
The scientists from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Perth, Australia and the University of Western Australia concluded that melittin and honeybee venom can destroy these strong cancerous cells fast, without harming the good cells.
Dr Ciara Duffy, the head of the research, explains that this venom is highly potent and that the melittin destroyed the membranes of the cells in 60 minutes.
Moreover, another finding from this study is that the bumblebee venom without any melittin didn’t destroy the cancerous cells, even when higher amounts were used.
Professor Peter Klinken, who didn’t participate in the research but is the chief scientists of Western Australia, welcomes these findings and says that it’s a very exciting observation that melittin is able to reduce the growth of the deadly breast cancer cells.
Knowing its capacity to make holes in the membranes, it may allow chemo drugs to easily penetrate and destroy the cells.
They tested out this possibility and combined the substance with a drug known as docetaxel and this proved more efficient at destroying the tumors than either of the two on its own.
Plus, the venom of honeybees is quite cheap and easy to obtain, which is beneficial for potential treatment in countries with poorer health services.