Many people have an “irrational” fear of wasps, but for a good reason. They can be aggressive and tend to appear out of nowhere, unafraid to sting anyone who comes in contact. Could nature have created a hidden reason for the existence of wasps and other creatures and their venom? Can wasp venom kill cancer cells?
A Brazilian study published in the Biophysical Journal explored the ability of wasp venom to defeat cancer. The specific wasp used is the hostile Brazilian wasp or Polybia paulista. It was discovered that chemicals in its venom can kill cancer cells (and also bacterial cells).
A molecule called MP1 kills the cancer cells by “creating holes on their lipid membrane.” These holes make molecules that cancer thrives on leak out. Cancer cells cannot survive this and die within seconds.
Meanwhile, the normal cells are perfectly safe as MP1 is very selective and does not harm them. These promising findings led way to anti-cancer therapies involving MP1 being currently studied further and tested.
Watch the full report on the venom:
Wasp's venom kills cancer cells without harming normal cells.
Posted by Hashem Al-Ghaili on Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Venom as Medicine Is As Old As Time
Using venom as medicine goes back to as early as 380 B.C. Famous Greek philosopher Aristotle described in “Historia Animalium” (History of Animals) how venom can be used as an antidote to the same venom.
Today there are around 20 million different venomous molecules in nature, yet less than 1,000 have been studied. Currently, venom from sea anemones is used to treat autoimmune conditions; venom from toads to identify prostate cancer; and venom from a scorpion to target tumors.
Wasp venom is not the first venom studied or used as an anti-cancer therapy.
In the 1980s, Dr. Juan C. Vidal treated many patients in Argentina with venom from South American rattlesnakes (different from North American), and also researched venoms of fire ants, wasps, and scorpions. After the government interfered, his research was forgotten.
Research from other scientists later found that scorpion venom contains peptides, chemicals that can trigger cancer cell death. This is now studied to be used to target tumors.
One of these peptides called TsAP-1 is derived from the Brazilian yellow scorpion (Tityus serralatus). It has anti-cancerous and antimicrobial properties. TsAP-1 can bind to cancer cells and prevent them from growing and multiplying.
Melittin is another peptide that can be used for the same results, but it is derived from bees’ venom. There is also contortrostatin from copperhead snake venom.
More research showed that peptides do have a much smaller effect on normal cells, but may still harm them a little. Which is why to make these chemicals into cancer therapies, a carrier is used to deliver them directly to the cancer cells or a tumor.
Right now, scientists are exploring using nanotechnology to do this— a branch of technology that can manipulate individual atoms and molecules.
People Who Say They Were Cured By Venom
Reading through the comments to the wasp venom study—a few personal stories stand out of people whose cancers went away after being accidentally stung by a wasp. There was a grandmother whose cancer disappeared after walking into a hornets’ nest and being stung multiple times; and a young woman whose blood started improving after being stung by a wasp while battling blood cancer.
It is not just cancer that venom was able to cure in different cases. Ellie Lobel at 45 years old was fighting Lyme disease for 18 years and was losing the battle.
“Nothing was working any more, and nobody had any answers for me,” she said. “Doctors couldn’t help me. I was spending all this cash and was going broke, and when I got my last test results back and all my counts were just horrible, I knew right then and there that this was the end.”
To prepare for the end of her life, she moved to California to try and enjoy her last days. By some strange fate, same week she was attacked by a whole swarm of Africanised bees.
Being allergic to bees, and battling Lyme, Ellie was certain it was the end and told the caregiver to come pick up her dead body the next day. She locked herself in her room, but something unexpected happened. She did not die that day, or the next, or months after. When she checked her blood, doctors could not believe what they were seeing—she was healthy again. Ellie believes that the toxins in the bee’s venom saved her life and cured her.
For those who may be cured by venom from cancer and other life-threatening diseases, further studies on different venom and their effects are necessary.
This article is for informational purposes only. Consult a doctor for before seeking any new treatments.
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