August 2, 2010
Novel Bee Venom Derivative Forms A Nanoparticle ‘Smart Bomb’ To Target Cancer Cells
New research in the FASEB Journal shows that a peptide derived from bee venom can deliver liposomes bearing drugs or diagnostic dyes to specific cells or tissues
The next time you are stung by a bee, here's some consolation: a toxic protein in bee venom, when altered, significantly improves the effectiveness liposome-encapsulated drugs or dyes, such as those already used to treat or diagnose cancer. This research, described in the August 2010 print issue of the FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org), shows how modified melittin may revolutionize treatments for cancer and perhaps other conditions, such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and serious infections.
To make this discovery, Wickline and colleagues designed and tested variations of the melittin protein to derive a stable compound that could be inserted into liposomal nanoparticles and into living cells without changing or harming them. They then tested the ability of this protein, or "transporter agent," to attach to different therapeutic compounds and enhance drug therapy without causing harmful side effects. In addition, their results suggest that the base compound which is used to create the transporter agent may improve tumor therapy as well.
"Our journal is abuzz in a hive of bee-related discoveries. Just last month, we published research showing for the first time how honey kills bacteria. This month, the Wickline study shows how bee venom peptides can form "smart bombs" that deliver liposomal nanoparticles directly to their target, without collateral damage," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal.
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