A Venomous Cure – Honeybee Venom Can Shield Against Breast Cancer

honeybee venom cures cancer
Credit: WSBTV

Cancer has been one of the leading causes of death around the globe. Researchers are continually working to find a cure and to pinpoint possible causes. Fortunately, they discovered medicines comprising of anti-cancerous agents. They’re experimenting with honeybee venom as many researchers point in that direction. 

There are many potentially anti-cancerous agents obtained from nature. In recent findings, which appear in the journal Nature, researchers discovered that the honeybee venom is capable of killing breast cancer cells. 

The active component of honeybees kills two types of breast cancer cells as per laboratory studies.

What Makes Venom of Honeybee Deadly For Bellicose Cancer Cells?

Apis mellifera is the scientific name of the European honeybee. Since ancient times, European honeybee’s honey, propolis, and venom have been used by humans as medicine. The active component of honeybee venom responsible for the killing of cancer cells is melittin

It is also responsible for activating pain receptors. This activation of painful receptors produces a painful sensation of a bee’s sting.

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Melittin is harmless for healthy cells. However, it has a lethal effect on triple-negative breast cancer cells and HER2-enriched breast cancer cells. Recently scientists have found in laboratory tests that honeybee venom containing melittin is toxic for an extensive range of cancer types. 

Moreover, it includes melanoma, pulmonary, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers. However, scientists are unable to find the technique with which melittin kills cancer cells. 

Can Breast Cancer be Cured With Honeybee Venom?

Breast cancer around the world is the most common type of cancer in women. There are many types and sub-types of breast cancer. Furthermore, anti-cancerous drugs treat cancer. Added to that, the choice of therapy depends on the location and stage of breast cancer. But its two types are resistant to anticancer drugs and existing treatments.

Fortunately, honeybee venom can kill these hard-to-treat types of breast cancer: Triple-Negative breast cancer and HER2-enriched breast cancer. The scientists of two institutes explored these types. 

The institutes are the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and the University of Western Australia, both in Perth, Australia. They also found that melittin has a negligible effect on normal healthy cells and only targets the cancerous cells.

The Hour of Death For Cancer Cells – A Dose of Melittin

According to Dr. Ciara Duffy, who led the research, the honeybee venom was significantly advantageous. They found that melittin, within 60 minutes, can destroy the cancer cell membrane. 

One of the findings was that even the concentrated venom of bumblebees did not kill the cancer cells. It is because it does not contain melittin in it.

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Within an hour, melittin kills the cancerous cells by punching holes in their outer membrane and blocking their growth. Growth disruption occurs due to the effect of melittin on the cancer signaling pathway. 

Specific receptors are present in the cancerous cell membrane playing a role as growth factors. Melittin blocks these receptors. Thus, it prevents the growth, replication, and reproduction of cancerous cells. 

However, some triple-negative breast cancers and HER2-enriched breast cancer cells grow uncontrollably. It is because they have a large number of these receptors. 

A Ray of Hope – Advances in Treatment

When the researchers discovered that melittin makes holes in the cancer cell membrane, they combined it with an anticancer drug – Docetaxel. They treated a mouse model of triple-negative breast cancer with the adjuvant. 

Through this experiment, they discovered that the combination of melittin and docetaxel works more effectively than the individual drug separately. 

Melittin obtained from honeybee venom is economical and readily available not only in developed countries but also in developing countries. However, designing a dosage form with a reduced dose, greater efficacy, and reduce harmful side effects further studies must be done. 

Melittin in this study does not cause damage to healthy cells. Further studies are essential to avoid any harm to healthy cells.

Sophia Oliver
The author is a nutrition and dietician graduate who works as a health freelance content writer and as well as a copy editor. Along with other novels, Sophia has also published about many health-related technologies, advancements, and physical fitness. Being an all-rounder makes her stand out in the line.