Brazilian Wasp Venom Kills Cancer Cells, But Not Healthy Cells

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People are often pretty down on wasps, mostly due to fear of being stung, but this Brazilian wasp have have a key to unlocking an amazing breakthrough in destroying cancer.

IFLScience reported the cancer-targeting toxin in the wasp is called MP1 (Polybia-MP1) and until now, how it selectively eliminates cancer cells was unknown. According to new research, the reason for the effective cancer destruction was unknown until recent atomic imaging allowed scientists to watch the activity first-hand.  They saw that in healthy cells, certain types of fat, called PS (phosphatidylserine) and PE (phosphatidylethanolamine) were found on the inside of the cell wall, but in cancerous cells the fats were on the outside of the wall.  The venom attaches to the fat in the cancerous cells only and opens pores in the cell walls, which cause molecules like proteins to flush out of the cell, rendering its destruction.

“Formed in only seconds, these large pores are big enough to allow critical molecules such as RNA and proteins to easily escape cells,” explaind João Ruggiero Neto from São Paulo State University and co-author of the study.

Paul Beales, from the University of Leeds and co-author of the study, stated that “cancer therapies that attack the lipid composition of the cell membrane would be an entirely new class of anticancer drugs.”  He added, “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 scientists have thus worked with model membranes infused with PE and/or PS and have said that more work will need to be done to ensure that the toxin will be safe to administer to humans.

With new cancer fighting techniques like this, maybe we will see an end to the standard toxic approach of western medicine.

(Article By Jeremiah Jones)

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