Tag Archives: bee

Bees are creating a buzz in cancer research

pixabay beesIf you’ve ever been stung by a bee, you know how painful it is. It’s hard to imagine that bee venom could save lives, but actually, new research is showing that bee venom has been able to treat breast cancer and melanoma cells!

Bee venom contains proteins that can attach to cancer cells and block tumor growth. Unfortunately, using bee venom by itself can cause unwanted problems- think about that bee sting! Bee venom can damage nerve and heart cells. So researchers got creative and figured out a way to harness the positive effects of bee venom without the nasty side effects.

Honeybee venom contains a substance called melittin that can prevent cancer cells from multiplying. Researchers were able to synthesize melittin in the laboratory and pack the toxin into nanoparticles. These particles evade the immune system, and they deliver the toxin right to the cancer cells. This doesn’t affect normal tissue, and doesn’t have the toxic effects of pure venom.

Hopefully, after animal testing, this treatment will prove to be effective, and it can proceed to human trials in the next three to five years. Read more about bee venom in cancer research here:


Cancer diagnosis- from a honeybee!

beesA bee has an incredible sense of smell- better than a dog’s. And they can be trained to ‘alert’ to targeted odors in as little as 10 minutes! Training involves exposing the bees to certain odors and then rewarding them with sugar water- and the bees have the capability to remember the actions that cause sugar rewards for the rest of their lives!

Bees are placed in a glass container that patients exhale into. If the bees sense the odor that they were trained to recognize, they fly into a secondary container as an ‘alert’ to the presence of the odor.

If bees can be trained to detect cancer on the breath, and they are this easy to train to respond to specific smells, it stands to reason that bees could potentially become an invaluable medical tool for diagnostic purposes in many different applications! An interesting example of animal research at work!