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Could Bees be the Key to Curing Breast Cancer?



In a new study by Dr. Ciara Duffy (from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research), honey bee venom was found to destroy two different kinds of breast cancer cells. Even sweeter, a high concentration of honey bee venom can kill 100% of cancer cells without affecting normal cells!


Melittin, a small component of honey bee venom, destroyed cancer cell membranes and reduced the chemical messages that signal growth and reproduction to the cancer cells. Melittin is a great example of something found in nature that can be used to treat human diseases and it is able to be made specially in a lab.


Not only is melittin effective on its own, but it can also be used with existing chemotherapy drugs. These would enter cancer cells and increase their deaths with the help of melittin hiding out in cell membranes. When tested in mice, combining melittin and chemotherapy medication was effective in reducing tumors!



For this study, Dr. Duffy took out venom from 312 honey bees and bumblebees in Perth Western Australia, Ireland, and England. The honey bee venom affected breast cancer cells similarly no matter where the bee was from., Though many of our furry friends were able to help, bumblebee venom was not able to kill cancer cells.


Past research on honey bee venom dates back to 1950 when an article published in Nature demonstrated tumor growth reduction in plants. Dr. Duffy states that researching the effects of honey bee venom on different cancers has grown considerably in the last two decades.

Beyond the importance of finding cures for cancer, this study is incredibly significant because it shows yet another reason why honey bees are so important! Their venom can treat a highly aggressive type of breast cancer - and that is something to buzz about!



Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. (2020, September 2). Venom from honeybees found to kill aggressive breast cancer cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200901093412.htm

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Written by Clara Pitsker and Claire Bradley

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