Researchers use nanobees to attack, prevent cancer

Nanoparticles effectively deliver cancer-killing bee venom to tumor cells

Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine are creating something of a nanobee to fight cancerous tumors.

Scientists at the St. Louis medical school announced this week that they are using nanoparticles to deliver the bee venom melittin through the body to kill cancerous tumor cells.

In an experiment with mice, the nanobees targeted the tumors and effectively stopped them from growing and even shrank them in some cases.

The university also reported that while the melittin-carrying nanoparticles can slow or even shrink some tumors, they also may be able to act at early stages to prevent cancer from even developing.

"The nanobees fly in, land on the surface of cells and deposit their cargo of melittin which rapidly merges with the target cells," says Dr. Samuel Wickline, who heads the Siteman Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence at Washington University. "We've shown that the bee toxin gets taken into the cells where it pokes holes in their internal structures."

Nanotechnology has playing an increasingly big role in battling cancer and other diseases.

Earlier this month, researchers at MIT announced that they have killed ovarian tumors in mice using nanoparticles that deliver killer genes to the cancer cells.

According to MIT, the findings could lead to a new treatment for ovarian cancer.

And in May, MIT scientists announced that they had developed gold nanoparticles that can target tumors and heat them with minimal side effects to nearby healthy cells.

The researchers said tumors in mice that received the gold nanorod treatment disappeared within 15 days. The cancer did not recur for the duration of the three-month study.

This news comes just months after MIT announced that a group of scientists had developed nanotechnology that can be placed inside living cells to determine whether chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer are reaching their targets or attacking healthy cells.

Researchers use carbon nanotubes wrapped in DNA so they can be safely injected into living tissue.

In this week's news out of Washington University, researchers tested the nanotube/melittin treatment on mice with breast tumors and mice with melanoma.

The university reported that after four to five injections of the melittin-carrying nanoparticles over several days, growth of the tumors slowed by nearly 25 per cent, and the size of the mice's melanoma tumors decreased by 88 per cent compared to untreated tumors.

Melittin is a small protein that is strongly attracted to cell membranes. Once it reaches the membrane, it can open up pores and break up the cells.

"Nanobees are an effective way to package the useful, but potentially deadly, melittin, sequestering it so that it neither harms normal cells nor gets degraded before it reaches its target," said Paul Schlesinger, a medical doctor and associate professor of cell biology and physiology, in a statement

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags nanotechnologycancer

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Sharon Gaudin

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?