Does The Cure For Cancer Lie In A Brazilian Wasp?
According to research published in the Biophysical Journal, the venom of the Brazilian social wasp Polybia paulista contains a powerful anticancer ingredient called MP1 (Polybia-MP1). The article claims that the toxin is able to kill tumour cells without affecting healthy ones.
The research team created model cell membranes and exposed them to the toxin in order to study the mechanism behind this selective action.
Utilising biophysical techniques and imaging, researchers found that the MP1 toxin selectively attacks cancer cells because of the abnormal distribution of fatty molecules (lipids), which are to be found on the outside of the protective membranes of the cells.
During the interaction of the toxin and the lipids, the structure of the cell membranes becomes distorted and gaping holes appear which causes the molecules to start leaking out of the membranes. The cancer cells cannot function without these molecules, and they eventually die.
The toxin does not harm healthy cells because their lipids are on the inside of the cell’s inner membrane, not on the outside.
Dr Paul Beales, professor at the University of Leeds and co-author of the study says that cancer therapies that involve the interaction with the lipids of the tumour cell membranes could become “an entirely new class of anticancer drugs.”
Beales 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.” [Source: Phys.Org]
The toxin has thus far been tested on bladder and prostate cancer cells, as well as on leukaemic cells, which are known to be resistant to various drugs, and has proven to be effective in inhibiting their growth.
The use of the Polybia paulista’s venom to fight cancer is a promising possibility, but more research is required and researchers say that the next step is to further study the mechanism of the MP1’s selective action as well as to boost its anticancer properties for clinical purposes.
“Understanding the mechanism of action of this peptide will help in translational studies to further assess the potential for this peptide to be used in medicine,” concluded Beales.
Source: The Mind Unleashed