Honeybee venom contains chemical that kills breast cancer cells in minutes, study shows

NEDLANDS, Australia — A groundbreaking discovery in Australia is giving new meaning to the term natural remedy. Using hundreds of honeybees, a new study reveals the venom in these insects’ stingers quickly kills breast cancer cells.

Dr. Ciara Duffy says honeybee venom destroys multiple types of breast cancer, even the hard to treat triple-negative variety. Her study in the journal npj Precision Oncology finds the venom not only eradicates these cancers, it also breaks up a cancerous cell’s ability to reproduce. It also contains a compound called melittin which researchers say helps this natural remedy stop the disease with remarkable speed.

“The venom was extremely potent,” the researcher from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research says in a media release. “We found that melittin can completely destroy cancer cell membranes within 60 minutes.”

In just 20 minutes, melittin breaks down the chemical messages breast cancer cells transmits to trigger both cell growth and cell division. The compound suppresses the receptors that commonly overexpress themselves in triple-negative breast cancer and HER2-enriched breast cancer.

Venom was also tested against hormone receptor positive breast cancer cells and normal breast cells. With a specifically concentrated dose of the venom, researchers are able to kill 100 percent of cancer cells. At the same time, the study finds bee venom does little harm to normal cells.

“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,” Professor Peter Klinkenhe from the University of Western Australia says.

Do all bees carry this special venom?

Although there are around 20,000 different species of bees, the study finds not every insect can fight cancer. Dr. Duffy’s tests on 312 honeybees and bumblebees from Perth, Western Australia reveal bumblebee venom does not induce cancer cell death. Honeybees from other regions however, share this special ability to rapidly stop the disease.

“I found that the European honeybee in Australia, Ireland and England produced almost identical effects in breast cancer compared to normal cells,” Duffy reports.

Researchers add Perth bees are some of the healthiest members of their species. While the study dissects live bee stingers to extract melittin, it finds this compound can be successfully reproduced in labs.

“The synthetic product mirrored the majority of the anti-cancer effects of honeybee venom,” the Australian scientist adds.

Adding honeybee venom to chemotherapy treatments

Study authors say melittin can also help current cancer treatments like chemotherapy. The report discovers melittin also forms numerous pores (tiny holes) in the breast cancer cell membrane. Duffy suspects other cancer drugs may be able to use these openings to penetrate the cells and kill the disease.

“We found that melittin can be used with small molecules or chemotherapies, such as docetaxel, to treat highly-aggressive types of breast cancer. The combination of melittin and docetaxel was extremely efficient in reducing tumor growth in mice.”

Using bee venom as a medical remedy has been studied since the 1950’s, but Duffy’s team says it’s only been considered as treatment for cancer during the last two decades. More research needs to be done to find out what kind of a dose human patients will require.

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Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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  1. Great. And at a time when the BEE population is in crisis/extinction levels world-wide. How convenient?

    1. Did you even read the article? It said it could be reproduced in labs. Which means they don’t have to kill off all the bees. ????

    2. Being a woman who has had this horrible breast cancer , I would go for it need for a reason and if u want to do something about instead of bitch then do it.. alot of women and men will get help they need instead of dieing and families watching this .. I’m all for .. so from me to u please go raise bees and stop your complaining

    3. Are you kidding me? What exactly do you mean by that comment? There are bees all over the world and I think it’s only American honeybees that ate disappearing. I’ve had the breast cancer that they are talking about and thankfully survived. I will never be the same though even after 17 months of chemo, 33 weeks of radiation and a pill every day for 5 years with awful side effects.

    4. Did you read the article? While the study dissects live bee stingers to extract melittin, it finds this compound can be successfully reproduced in labs. The synthetic product mirrored the majority of the anti-cancer effects of honeybee venom,” the Australian scientist adds.

    5. Even more convenient? “The synthetic product mirrored the majority of the anti-cancer effects of honeybee venom.” So they can artificially reproduce it in a lab already, and don’t even need the bees- even though it’s only “mostly” as effective.

    6. The bee population is definitely in crisis, yet so is our human population when it comes to cancer. The scientists HAVE determined that the compound produced by the specific bees IS reproducible and WORKS!

    7. My thoughts exactly, human life is more valuable than a bees. And my aunt has breast cancer so I love that this works! But what about the bees? With the extinction almost inescapable, how will we prevent their complete extinction while still saving breast cancer victims?

    8. Just what i was thinking Jimmy, and they’ve known that it can do this for decades. Makes you wonder who’s in charge of killing off the bees doesn’t it? Aren’t big pharma tied in with Monsanto?

  2. God with all the scientists earning salaries often paid with taxpayer funded grants in these labs that often create the worse of things I can’t believe not until now has one of them thought to see what kills cancer cells & what might bee venom contain as far as a remedy. What the hell do the do all day in all those labs all over the world? They make drugs & cosmetics & test it all on innocent animals & that’s what they admit. What they are really up to is sick & pure evil.

  3. The Honey Bee does currently have a high mortality rate, but it is nowhere near extinction level. There are more honeybee hives (managed) today than 20 years ago.

  4. Hey Jimmy,

    Did you not comprehend the sentence that states, “this compound can be successfully reproduced in labs”?

  5. We start killing all the bees to save people you going to kill people anyway because then they can,t pollinate. I think they should study this more instead of killing the bees that’s ridiculous when they’re in Jeopardy now.

  6. Your comment reveals that you are not the brightest bulb in the box–
    Did you not read the entire article? It says the synthetic form of melittin is almost completely as effective as the natural version.

  7. What a wonderful discovery. The transition to a widely available medication cannot come soon enough. I lost a very dear friend and diving buddy to breast cancer. I miss her very much. A friend of mine lost his wife to the same disease – she was 26 – he was devastated and has never recovered. Let’s hope there are other substances like this that will be found to treat other forms of cancer.

  8. I am a survivor 17 yrs breast cancer.to find this solution in bees is wonderful!! What would be the side effects compared to chemotherapy? What a wonderful find!!

  9. Its not about the bees. They don’t need bees.

    “While the study dissects live bee stingers to extract melittin, it finds this compound can be successfully reproduced in labs.
    “The synthetic product mirrored the majority of the anti-cancer effects of honeybee venom,” the Australian scientist adds.

    So, they can make melittin without using bees and still have the main effect.
    The question is, will they make it available for breast cancer victims?
    Curing disease is bad for business.
    Treating disease is good for business.

  10. I read an article on a woman who buys bees in the last stages of life and using them stings the area around her spine to deal with her illness which if I recall correctly was Lime disease.

  11. For crying out loud, it has been under study for a cancer treatment for 20 years??? And just now figuring out a dose for humans??? Honest to gosh, just another example of slow walking treatments that could save lives. How about if they get on the ball and get this thing into the treatment procedures asap.
    BTW – I am a breast cancer patient currently in remission but with the black cloud of return hanging over my head 24/7.

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