Can ‘Nanobees’ Sting Tumors to Death?
By Afifa Jabeen Quraishi, The Saudi Gazette, 9/12/2009
US researchers have recently developed tiny artificial “nanobees”, which are armed with a cancer-killing toxin found in bee venom, that literally sting tumors to death. Tested on mice, after four to five injections of the Melittin-carrying nanobees over several days, the growth of breast cancer tumors in the mice was slowed by nearly 25 percent. Melanoma (skin cancer) tumors shrunk in size by 88 percent.
Saudi Gazette asked Debabrata Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D., a Professor at the Nanotechnology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic, Minnesota - via an email interview - the scope and implications of this research.
“The main propose of this work is to deliver toxic drugs into the tumors in a targeted manner and side by side to overcome drug resistance of the tumor cells. In this regard, the authors made use of Melittin, a water-soluble peptide derived from the venom of the honeybee and formed a nanoemulsion-peptide complex.
Melittin is highly toxic to the cells and disrupts the cellular membrane, killing the cells. If the cancer cells come closer to the Melittin, its membrane will be broken down; therefore the traditional mechanisms of cancer resistance cannot happen,” explained Mukhopadhyay.
“The uniqueness of the paper,” he continued, “is that the authors developed the nanoemulsion and put a tumor targeting agent that helps to deliver this highly toxic drug straight to the tumor mass and bypass the toxic effect of the venom. Therefore, the authors claimed that this nanoemulsion-peptide could kill the cancer cells precisely without damaging normal cells.”
The research also brings into focus the powerful bee toxin – Melittin - and its use in disease treatment.
“In several parts of Asia, such as, China and Korea, Bee Venom therapy (BVT) has been used for several diseases such as multiple sclerosis to relieve the symptoms associated with disease. Melittin is a powerful anti-inflammatory substance as well and may be 100 times more potent than hydrocortisone…