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Stinging for a Cure? Wasp Venom’s Anticancer Properties

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Anyone who has tried to enjoy the summer weather knows that wasps can be a menace to fun. If you’ve ever been stung, you know just how unpleasant these small winged creatures can be, especially if you are allergic. However, sometimes help comes from the most unexpected places and wasp venom might be the next great frontier in cancer research.

Researchers have shown how wasp venom from the Brazilian social wasp Polybia paulista contains the antimicrobial peptide Polybia-MP1, which has been shown to inhibit multiple forms of cancerous cells like prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and multidrug-resistant leukemic cells. While researchers discovered the use of MP1, they had yet to discover how it kills cancer cells until now.

The new study from Biophysical Journal reveals how MP1 is able to kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells unscathed. MP1 attacks lipids on the surface of cancer cells and creates holes that allow important cell molecules to leak out. One of the study’s authors, Paul Beales, explained how, “Cancer therapies that attack the lipid composition of the cell membrane would be an entirely new class of anticancer drugs. 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.”

The reason behind MP1’s special effectiveness could be how cancer cell membranes differ from normal, healthy cell membranes. MP1 creates pores large enough for critical molecules to easily escape cancer cells. Going forward, the researchers plan to experiment with a different MP1 amino acid sequences to investigate how MP1’s structure relates to its function and potentially boost its anticancer properties for therapeutic purposes.

While exciting and promising advances are in progress for Cancer treatment, there are still options available now for patients struggling with a cure. If you or someone you love is battling cancer, and you’re looking for information or help, contact your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey today to discuss finding the best options available today.