Honeybee Venom Destroys Aggressive Breast Cancer Cells, Study Finds

Honeybee venom appears to rapidly destroy triple-negative breast cancer and HER2-enriched breast cancer cells, according to the findings of a study published in the journal Precision Oncology.

“We tested a very small, positively charged peptide in honeybee venom called melittin, which we could reproduce synthetically, and found that the synthetic product mirrored the majority of the anti-cancer effects of honeybee venom,” Dr Ciara Duffy from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University of Western Australia via a press release.

“We looked at how honeybee venom and melittin affect the cancer signaling pathways, the chemical messages that are fundamental for cancer cell growth and reproduction, and we found that very quickly these signaling pathways were shut down.

Researchers observed that a specific concentration of honeybee venom can induce 100% cancer cell death, while having minimal effects on normal cells. “We found that melittin can completely destroy cancer cell membranes within 60 minutes,” Dr. Duffy continued.

The results showed the melittin attenuated the chemical messages of cancer cells that are essential to cancer cell growth and cell division. Dr. Duffy added, “We looked at how honeybee venom and melittin affect the cancer signaling pathways, the chemical messages that are fundamental for cancer cell growth and reproduction, and we found that very quickly these signaling pathways were shut down.”

Western Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken said: “This is an incredibly exciting observation that melittin, a major component of honeybee venom, can suppress the growth of deadly breast cancer cells, particularly triple-negative breast cancer.

Prof. Klinken added that: “Significantly, this study demonstrates how melittin interferes with signaling pathways within breast cancer cells to reduce cell replication. It provides another wonderful example of where compounds in nature can be used to treat human diseases”, he said.