Honeybee Venom Can Kill Aggressive Cancer Cells

by Shriman Visahan
Honeybee Venom Can Kill Aggressive Cancer Cells

September 24, 2020

As per the World Cancer Report, there are about 1.16 million new cases, 784,800 deaths, and 2.26 million 5-year prevalent cases in the country’s population of 1.35 billion, but honeybee venom can change this. Cancer has slowly turned into a household name, with no positive cure in sight. But a new study could be a breakthrough we needed in the form of honeybee venom.

Breakthrough in Cancer Research​

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Dr. Ciara Duffy, the scientist behind the research at Nature Research Cancer Community

In a potentially groundbreaking study, a young scientist from Australia found that venom from honeybees can kill aggressive and hard-to-treat breast cancer cells. Dr. Ciara Duffy, a 25-year-old Australian scientist, collected 312 honeybees from beehives in Australia, Ireland, and England.

How Is the Cure Made?

To harvest their venom, the bees were then put to sleep with carbon dioxide and kept on ice. Then the venom was extracted and injected into the tumors.

The research showed that a specific concentration of the venom was efficient in killing 100% of triple-negative breast cancer and HER2-enriched cells of breast cancer in just 60 minutes while having minimal effects on normal cells.

Dr. Duffy mentioned that a component of the venom called melittin had a pernicious effect. The researchers reproduced the melittin synthetically and found it mirrored most of the honeybee venom’s anti-cancer effects.

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Melittin is the major pain producing substance of honeybees

Working of Melittin

Within 20 minutes, melittin shuts down the signaling pathways to reproduce triple-negative and HER2 cancer cells. This substantially reduced the chemical messages of cancer cells essential to cancer cell growth and cell division.

The research published in the journal Nature Precision Oncology is one of the initial steps towards developing potential treatments. Moreover, researchers would next delve into the details of the possible side effects and maximum tolerated doses.

"What melittin does is it actually enters the surface or the plasma membrane and forms holes or pores, and it just causes the cell to die,"

- Dr. Ciara Duffy

Most Common Cancer Types in India

162,500 cases per year

120,000 cases per year

97,000 cases per year

68,000 cases per year

57,000 cases per year

57,000 cases per year

Together, these account for 49% of all new cancer cases. Even though many cases aren’t fatal, they drain the patients and their families both physically and financially. And we still don’t have a sure-shot cure for cancer insight.


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