The research has been published in the Journal of Micro-Oncology of the Harry Perkins Institute for Medical Research in Perth by Dr. Ciara Duffy as part of her doctoral research.
Dr Duffy hopes that this discovery will lead to the development of a treatment for triple-negative breast cancer, which accounts for between 10 to 15 percent of all breast cancers and for which effective clinical treatments are not currently available. Dr. Duffy said that honey bee venom has proven very effective, saying: “We found that the toxin from honey bees is remarkably effective in killing some of these really aggressive cancer cells at concentrations that do not harm normal cells.”
The study showed that a specific concentration of the toxin killed 100 percent of triple-negative breast cancer and enriched breast cancer cells within 60 minutes, with little effect on normal cells. The study used the venom from 312 honey-producing and bumblebees to investigate the extent of their anti-cancer properties.
According to Dr. Duffy, “Perth bees are among the healthiest bees in the world,” and they were hypnotized and preserved on ice before the toxin was extracted and injected into tumors.
Dr. Duffy explained that one of the components of the toxin called “Melitin” has an effective effect on eliminating cancerous cells. The researchers artificially reproduced melitin and found that it reverses the majority of the anticancer effects of honey bee venom.
In this regard, Dr. Duffy said: “What melitin does is that it actually enters the surface or the plasma membrane, forms holes or pores and causes cell death,” adding: “We found that they interfere with key messages or cancer signaling pathways that are essential for the growth and replication of cancer cells.” “.
The research team found that the holes in the breast cancer membranes caused by the substance “melitin” allowed the chemotherapy to enter the cell and worked very efficiently in reducing the tumor growth in mice.
The chief scientist in Western Australia, Professor Peter Kleinken, emphasized that this was an important development as he provided another example of places where compounds in nature could be used to treat human diseases. As a reminder, breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the world among women.