According to scientists from the Australian Medical Research, honeybee venom was found beneficial in killing aggressive cells of breast cancer in a lab study.
The study was published in the Nature Precision Oncology journal.
The venom of the bees and its compound melittin were used against two types of cancer which are difficult to treat, i.e. triple-negative and HER2-enriched.
The scientists said this is an exciting finding; however, they emphasize the need for more research.
Could Honeybee Venom Become the Key to Treating Breast Cancer?
Unfortunately, breast cancer is a common cancer in women worldwide.
This isn’t the first time that bee venom has been praised for its anti-cancer characteristics for other types of cancer like melanoma.
How Was the Research Conducted?
The team tested venoms of more than 300 honeybees and bumblebees. The extract of honeybees was found to be the most powerful, according to Ciara Duffy, the PhD researcher and head of the study.
In fact, only one concentration of the venom destroyed the cells within an hour and harmed the surrounding cells minimally.
However, the toxicity elevated for other doses.
The team also found that the melittin compound was powerful enough to disrupt the cancer cells on its own. Although it’s naturally found in honeybee venom, it can also be synthetically-produced.
The traditional methods of treatment of triple-negative breast tumor are radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. This type of aggressive tumor accounts for 10 to 15 percent of breast cancers.
The chief scientist of Australia described this research as very exciting.
And, he emphasized how it shows the ability of melittin to interfere with the signals in the cancerous cells to lower their growth.
Prof Peter Klinken also said how it’s a great example of how natural compounds can be used for treatment of illnesses. However, more data is necessary to see if the venom could also work on a scale as a medication for cancer.