A lab study found honeybee venom (which has the compound “melittin”) destroyed 2 types of hard to treat breast cancer cells. Melittin on its own reduced cancer cell growth & can be produced synthetically. One venom concentration killed cancer cells within 1 hour with minimal harm to other cells.

Honeybee venom ‘kills some breast cancer cells’

Getty Images

Australian scientists say the venom from honeybees has been found to destroy aggressive breast cancer cells in a lab setting.

The venom – and a compound in it called melittin – were used against two cancer types which are hard to treat: triple-negative and HER2-enriched.

The discovery has been described as “exciting”, but scientists caution that further testing is needed.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women around the world.

While there are thousands of chemical compounds which can fight cancer cells in a lab setting, scientists say there are few which can be produced as treatment for humans.

Bee venom has previously been found to have anti-cancer properties for other types of cancer … Continue Reading (2 minute read)

12 thoughts on “A lab study found honeybee venom (which has the compound “melittin”) destroyed 2 types of hard to treat breast cancer cells. Melittin on its own reduced cancer cell growth & can be produced synthetically. One venom concentration killed cancer cells within 1 hour with minimal harm to other cells.”

  1. hansn

    If you’re wondering why every few months there’s a “cancer breakthrough” and yet people still get cancer, the reason is this: early research, however promising, has many difficult steps to becoming a viable therapy.

    When you read a report like this, consider the following idealized drug development pipeline:

    1. Theory on method of action. No actual evidence of a new therapeutic working, just an idea that it should.

    2. In vitro evidence of action. Here the therapeutic works in the lab against the disease cell lines. (Eg a cell line which is grown in culture which has many of the same properties as the cancer)

    3. Animal model evidence of action. Here the therapeutic works in an animal model of the disease (eg a mouse which has been genetically engineered to be highly susceptible to cancer)

    4. First trial in humans. Phase 0 or I trials show the therapeutic doesn’t kill people, but typically the participants don’t have the underlying disease the therapeutic is targeted at treating.

    5. Phase II clinical trial completed. The therapeutic is given to “ideal” patients to see if there’s a reasonable likelihood the therapeutic works. Typically there’s no randomization, and this is the first meaningful proof of concept.

    6. Phase III clinical trial completed. Here the therapeutic is tested against existing approaches in the intended use population. This is the only point at which a responsible physician would make an informed recommendation for adoption of the treatment (except in rare cases).

    If you think of each of these stages as a filter, where only a percentage of therapeutics move on to the next phase, you can see why we often see lots of stories like this but still struggle to cure cancer. So few therapies in early parts of this pipeline make it to the end, even experts in a particular field are not going to pay attention until phase II or phase III trials (unless they are doing research on those very therapeutics).

    Therapies which work well against cells may work against mechanisms which are unlike cells in the body. The cell line you’re testing against isn’t identical to a cancer cell, it is just somewhat similar. So something which kills the cancer cell line may not work in the body.

    Similarly, the mouse version of the cancer may be completely different from the human version. Or mice may, for some reason, tolerate a dose which is harmful to humans.

    Something may work in humans but still be less effective than current approaches, or cause side effects which are unacceptable.

    In a broader context, there’s actually a final filter which is the commercialization of the treatment. This is less of an issue for people in wealthy countries treating serious diseases like cancer. But the commercial viability of a treatment definitely is a barrier to some otherwise effective treatments–usually when the disease is found only in impoverished communities. But maybe that’s a side discussion here.

  2. Duijinn

    Another reason to SAVE THE BEES! These little guys are so beneficial to not only health with their honey and now venom but also the health of the planet with pollination!

  3. Dakens2021

    This was done in a lab on cell samples if I remember correctly not in people.
    As an old XKCD once said, when you see a claim that something kills cancer cells in a petri dish, remember so does a handgun.
    Here’s hoping this one turns out to be the real thing though.

  4. 69_Watermelon_420

    Ah, so that’s why I didn’t get breast cancer.

  5. GoneInSixtyFrames

    Conspiracy time: Pesticides create cancer and kills bees, bees make nature happen and kill cancer. Hmm.

  6. BlueReaper0013

    Even bees like tiddies. This is pretty cool tbh

  7. Fire_is_beauty

    Waiting for the “Woman sticks breasts into beehive” article.

  8. HashtagTSwagg

    Heh… from the BeeBeeC.

  9. xbox_inmy_veins

    That’s why big pharma is killing off the bees.

  10. mmmyesplease---

    Saw this on an episode of *Unsolved Mysteries* and also found out some dogs can be trained to sniff cancer cells. Wish Robert stack was around to do an UPDATE.

  11. 5usie

    Yet another reason to save the bees!

Leave a Comment