A study in Australia used hundreds of honeybees revealing that the venom in the insects’ stingers quickly kills breast cancer cells in a short time frame. Dr. Ciara Duffy, who headed the study says honeybee venom destroys multiple types of breast cancer, even the hard to treat triple-negative cancer cells, while leaving normal cells alone.
The study was published in the journal npj Precision Oncology. The researchers found honeybee venom not only eradicates these cancers, but it also breaks up the cancerous cell’s ability to reproduce itself. The venom also contains a compound called melittin which researchers statted helps this natural remedy stop the disease with remarkable speed.
“The venom was extremely potent,” a researcher from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research says in a media release. “We found that melittin can completely destroy cancer cell membranes within 60 minutes.”
It takes just 20 minutes for the melittin to break down the chemical messages breast cancer cells transmit to trigger both cell growth and cell division according to the study. This compound suppresses the receptors that commonly overexpress themselves in triple-negative breast cancer and HER2-enriched breast cancer.
Venom was also tested against hormone receptor-positive breast cancer cells and normal breast cells, which they found with a specifically concentrated dose of the venom, they were able to kill 100 percent of cancer cells. At the same time, the researchers note that bee venom does little harm to normal cells. So there’s very little danger in using honey bee venom to kill cancer cells, unlike typical chemotherapy.
“This study demonstrates how melittin interferes with signaling pathways within breast cancer cells to reduce cell replication. It provides another wonderful example of where compounds in nature can be used to treat human diseases,” Professor Peter Klinkenhe from the University of Western Australia says.
Although, it’s important to note there are over 20,000 different species of bees and the study found that not every insect can fight the cancer cells. Dr. Duffy’s tests consisted of testing 312 honeybees and bumblebees from Perth, Western Australia. Those studies revealed that bumblebee venom does not induce cancer cell death. On the other hand, Honeybees from other regions, do share this special ability to rapidly kill the cancer cells.
“I found that the European honeybee in Australia, Ireland, and England produced almost identical effects in breast cancer compared to normal cells,” Duffy says in the study.
The study authors further stated that melittin can also help aid current cancer treatments like chemotherapy. The report identifies that melittin also forms numerous pores (tiny holes) in the breast cancer cell’s membrane. Duffy suspects other cancer drugs may be able to use these openings to penetrate the cells and kill the disease.
“We found that melittin can be used with small molecules or chemotherapies, such as docetaxel, to treat highly-aggressive types of breast cancer. The combination of melittin and docetaxel was extremely efficient in reducing tumor growth in mice.”
This is a huge discovery for better understanding how to take care of cancer. It should be noted for the reader that for decades bee venom has been studied, however, it’s only more recently been considered to be a potential form of a medical remedy. More studies are needed and with this experiment by Duffy, that opens the door for further experimentation and case studies on bee venom.