Insect Natural Products and Processes: New Treatments for Human Disease
Insect Biochem Mol Biol, 2011 May 30
In this overview, some of the more significant recent developments in bioengineering natural products from insects with use or potential use in modern medicine are described, as well as in utilisation of insects as models for studying essential mammalian processes such as immune responses to pathogens.
To date, insects have been relatively neglected as sources of modern drugs although they have provided valuable natural products, including honey and silk, for at least 4-7000 years, and have featured in folklore medicine for thousands of years. Particular examples of Insect Folk Medicines will briefly be described which have subsequently led through the application of molecular and bioengineering techniques to the development of bioactive compounds with great potential as pharmaceuticals in modern medicine.
Insect products reviewed have been derived from honey, venom, silk, cantharidin, whole insect extracts, maggots, and blood-sucking arthropods. Drug activities detected include powerful antimicrobials against antibiotic-resistant bacteria and HIV, as well as anti-cancer, anti-angiogenesis and anti-coagulant factors and wound healing agents. Finally, the many problems in developing these insect products as human therapeutic drugs are considered and the possible solutions emerging to these problems are described…
Showing therapeutic efficacy of melittin-loaded nanoparticles in syngeneic B16F10 mouse melanoma tumours. Graph shows the increase in tumour volume of B16F10 melanoma tumours during the course of treatment with melittin-loaded nanoparticles (8.5 mg/kg) or controls (saline or nanoparticles alone; n = 5 each group). Photos show the dramatic differences in tumour volume at day 14 after 4 doses of melittin-loaded nanoparticles in comparison with the saline control. Data are represented as mean ± SD. Figure used with permission of American Society for Clinical Investigation and from, “Molecularly targeted nanocarriers deliver the cytolytic peptide melittin specifically to tumour cells in mice, reducing growth”, Soman et al., Journal of Clinical Invest, 119, 2830–2842, 2009, permission conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center, Inc.