Tag Archives: venom

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:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/buzz-over-bee-venom-in-cancer-research/

Spiders and erectile dysfunction: a reason to get excited!

google free brazilian wandering spiderFor most people, the sight of a spider isn’t cause for good news. Instead, these eight-legged creatures often bring out the worst in people, causing voices to jump up an octave or two. So it may be surprising that a poisonous spider would prompt excitement from anyone other than a dedicated entomologist. But actually, patients with erectile dysfunction may be pretty excited about the prospects of clinical applications for a particular spider’s venom!

The Brazilian Wandering Spider may be the world’s most toxic spider. With a leg-span of up to five inches, and a deadly neurotoxin on board, this spider is definitely one for your nightmares.

If a man is bitten, one side effect can be a painful erection that lasts for hours, potentially causing permanent damage. But researchers investigated further and extracted a particular toxin (PnTx2-6) from the venom. They found that it increases the availability of nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow. In rats with erectile dysfunction, researchers saw promising results!

As the toxin works differently than erectile dysfunction drugs that are on the market today, it’s possible that therapies using this toxin could be effective treatments for erectile dysfunction in patients that haven’t responded to conventional therapies. This isn’t the first time scientists have looked towards venomous animals to provide inspiration for human therapies- read more about tarantula and centipede venom as pain medications, and snake venom for cancer treatments and possible treatments for heart disease. It will be interesting to see if spider venom can help human patients with ED- stay tuned for more research!

Octopuses are awesome. See why…

iStock_000013309695SmallOctopuses are pretty awesome. Not only can they camouflage themselves by changing colors and imitating other animals to blend into their surroundings, but they can teach researchers about the brain’s ability to store and recall memories. Studying the octopus has led to new understanding of linguistics (ever wonder what an octopus and your tongue have in common?), and the venom from some species of octopus has been important in the understanding of new opportunities in drug development. And their arms can detach, taste whatever they’re touching, and also act like penises.

Intrigued? I think I’ve found the ultimate octopus video that proves how much octopuses kick ass. I promise, watch this one, you won’t be sorry. And if you don’t laugh, you may want to have yourself checked out. Click here to watch it.

We can learn a lot from animals, and sometimes, a little bit of humor is all it takes to get people to remember that! And there’s no doubt: octopuses kick ass.

Snake venom that turns blood into jelly: it could save lives!

iStock_000019991896SmallVenomous snakes are often feared, and for good reason. Snake venom can assault the cardiovascular and nervous systems and cause tissue death, and it doesn’t take much to be extremely dangerous or fatal to a human. For proof, check out this video to give you an idea of the effect snake venom can have on human blood.

Pretty creepy, right? And although the results might make you shudder- and hope that you’re never alone in a room with a pissed off venomous snake- let’s look at the bright side.

Obviously, the venom of some snakes can help blood coagulate. And there are times when this could be a real benefit to people. It turns out that snake venom can help expedite blood test results in patients who have received anticoagulants. It usually takes longer to process bloodwork in critically ill patients who have received anti-clotting medications, and it turns out that blood collection tubes infused with snake venom allow testing time to be reduced from 40 minutes to 10 minutes! This could undoubtedly save lives, and it’s amazing to see the benefits of such a scary phenomenon.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-17/deadly-snakes-may-help-save-lives/5398216

The deadliest frog in the world

kermit pixabayAnd the deadliest frog in the world is….

NOT Kermit the Frog. Sorry. Although the idea of a nasty, Russian frog impersonating Kermit is pretty devious, neither Kermit nor the frog masquerading as him in the new Muppets movie hold a candle to the poison dart frog.

golden poison frog pixabayThe golden poison dart frog has enough poison to kill 10 people. It’s believed that their toxicity is related to their diet, as they consume insects that feed on poisonous tropical plants. The frogs absorb this poison and they’re able to secrete it out of glands on their backs when they feel threatened.

I’m definitely a frog lover, so this is fascinating to me! But even if you’re not a fan of these small amphibians, they may affect you more than you realize. By studying the venom of poison dart frogs, researchers are working to develop a synthetic compound intended for pain relief. This non-addictive, non-opioid drug is 200x stronger than morphine. Interested yet?

Frogs, snails, snakes, spiders, centipedes, slugs, and worms may make some people shudder, but the amazing things these animals are teaching us could make a huge difference to you and your loved ones! Some of the deadliest animals in the world helping with some of the deadliest diseases in the world? Unlike Kermit, that’s nothing to laugh at!

Centipede venom as a pain medication?

poison animal centipedeFrom copperhead venom to centipede venom, the applications of poisonous animals in research continues to amaze me. I find it fascinating that we can learn so much from these bizarre and unconventional animals!

It turns out that a component of centipede venom- the same component that centipedes use to paralyze their prey via the blocking of sodium channels- could have real applications as a pain medication that is more efficient than morphine. In mouse studies, it proved to be a more potent pain reliever than morphine, and had no adverse effects on heart rate, blood pressure, or motor function.

While further studies are needed to validate the safety of such a drug for humans, this could have real applications for those who suffer from chronic pain. Maybe these guys aren’t so creepy after all!

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/37737/title/Centipede-Venom-Tops-Morphine/