Wasps are not actually in our top 5 favorite insects, on the contrary they are mean and painful stingers. In the light of recent studies, they might just be our saviors: their venom has been proven to selectively attack cancer cells while in the same time shielding the healthy ones. We bet you didn’t expect that!
The Polybia paulista is a species of eusocial wasp that lives in Brazil and whose venom contains a special, cancer-curing ingredient called MP1 (Polybia-MP1). The findings were concluded after the studies on mice suggested it might kill cancer cells.Researchers have discovered that the poison has the power to banish the growth of bladder and prostate cancerous cells, which can only be good news for all the gentlemen out there. Also, the study has shown positive results on leukemia cells and since every four minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer, this could be one of the most important medical breakthroughs.
According to these researchers, the wasp’s venom exploits atypical layouts of fats and lipids into the cancer cell membranes. The fact that the distribution is anomalistic gives birth to certain weak points where the toxin can interact with lipids, causing holes in the membranes. Since these are large enough, the basic molecules from cells can leak out and therefore cease to exist. Basically, the venom has the capacity of ripping out holes in cancer cells, destroying them.
Currently, this research is in full progress. Scientists are hoping to better understand the factors and functions of this peptide. Right now the only certain fact being that the venom is nontoxic to normal cells and has the potential to be used in medicine. The next stage of this groundwork is to adjust the amino acid sequence of MP, in order to understand how its selectivity works and how it can be refined. One of their ideas would be developing new forms of therapies, where multiple drugs are combined simultaneously so that the cancerous cells can be attacked from different parts all at the same time.
Cancer is a horrible disease with a major impact on our global society and as well one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It is considered that an average of 39.6% of both men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime, which means we are going to need all the help we can get in having access to new and more effective treatments.