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

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?