Science

Brazilian wasp venom kill cancer cells

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photo credit: Wasp close up. Attila Fodemesi/Shutterstock.

Everyone hates wasps, they have the worst pr agents in the world. Look at Bees, who doesn’t love them? They even got a film made about them “Bee Movie” – for the record we love it. But to be fair we have good reason to dislike them. They are equipped with nasty stingers and go crazy for your cans of fizzy pop.

Change may be around the corner for them though, as some are shown to attack cancer cells – and leave healthy ones alone.

The wasps harbour a cancer-targeting toxin called MP1 Polybia-MP1) – it has never before been known that this toxin selectively eliminates cancer cells. New research suggests it is attacking the way the arrangement of organic matter,fats, lipids appears, therefore this is why it attacks cancer only cells. The toxin essentially causes the cancer only cells to leak protein, which they need to survive.

Copyright: InsectWorld, Shutterstock

Copyright: InsectWorld, Shutterstock

The wasp in question here is called the Polybia paulista. Its toxin has been used on model cancer membranes and been examined by a range of imaging techniques. You can look this up on the biophysical journal.

The wasp responsible for producing this toxin is the Polybia paulista. The toxin has so far been tested on model membranes and examined using a broad range of imaging techniques. You can see the team’s research results in the Biophysical Journal.

“Cancer therapies that attack the lipid composition of the cell membrane would be an entirely new class of anticancer drugs,” said Paul Beales from the University of Leeds  “This could be useful in developing new combination therapies, where multiple drugs are used simultaneously to treat a cancer by attacking different parts of the cancer cells at the same time.”

In healthy cells the inner layers are packed with phospholipids, including phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylethanolamine. But in cancer cells, this is located on the outside – so you can see from a layman’s point of view how the wasp venom would work.

 

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