There has been a new study that was just published earlier this month on the effects of honeybee and bumblebee venom on certain types of cancer. The study showed some incredible results. First off it showed that there is one component of the bee’s venom that affects the cancer cells, and that component is called melittin. Melittin is the major component in bee venom and is the major pain producing compound in the bee’s venom. Dr. Ciara Duffy was the lead researcher on this study and she also tested the effects of the bee venom without melittin on cancer cells and the cancer cells were not affected.
One of the biggest breakthroughs that came out of this study was the effects of melittin on certain types of breast cancer, particularly, HER-2 and triple negative breast cancers. Both types of breast cancer have extremely limited treatment options because they are very resistant to treatments such as chemotherapy. But the melittin was shown to neutralize the growth of these cancers and help kill the cancerous cells as well. The way that the melittin works in neutralizing the growth of the cancer cells is, after just 20 minutes the melittin was able to substantially reduce the chemical messages between the cancer cells. These messages are essential for the cancer cells to grow and for cell division to occur. So, the melittin helps stop the cancer cells from growing which means that the size of the tumor will not keep growing. Another thing that the melittin does is that after 60 minutes the melittin can completely kill the cancer cells membrane which then leaves the cancer cells vulnerable to typical treatment options like chemotherapy. The study used melittin with a type of chemotherapy called docetaxel. Together the two were much more effective in stopping the growth of the cancer cells than either of the two were alone.
The only thing that the melittin could not do was completely kill the cancer cells, even when given in extremely high doses. Therefore, doctors are trying to use melittin in combination with chemotherapy drugs, such as docetaxel, to stop the growth of the cancer and to kill it. There is still more research that needs to happen, including testing melittin on human patients. All the tests so far have been done on mice. So, more testing will show how much melittin will work best in reducing the size of the cancer cells as well as what the optimum delivery method of the melittin would be. Although there have been no human tests yet, this is an extremely exciting breakthrough in the field of oncology and could help many people in the future with cancer that was deemed too difficult to treat in the past.