Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Killing Cancer Cells with Bee Venom

PBS, 2/17/2011

The sharp pain of a honeybee sting is caused in part by a peptide called melittin, which kills cells by piercing holes in their membranes. To turn this indiscriminate killer into a fine-tuned cancer drug, researchers have combined it with nanoparticles and cancer-targeting agents that allow the melittin to "sting" cancer cells without harming healthy cells. Though the treatment has not yet been tested on human patients, it has shown promise on mice. Researchers also hope to harness melittin's cell-killing power to knock out other diseases, including bacterial and fungal infections and arthritis.

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