Side effects of cancer treatments are almost as feared as the disease itself. But what if we could selectively destroy cancer cells without harming normal cells? Wasp venom might hold the secret to this largely awaited solution, as researchers from São Paulo State University and University of Leeds unraveled the mechanism of its cancer-targeting toxin.
Wasps might be scarier and less lovable than their close-relatives the bees. Despite this and their inability to produce honey, wasps might actually be more useful to humans than we initially realized… According to a new study performed by São Paulo State University and the University of Leeds, wasp venom could represent the basis of a whole new generation of anti-cancer treatments. The responsible is, in particular, the wasp Polybia paulista which produces Polybia-MP1, a host-defense peptide with known anticancer properties.
Although the exact mechanism isn’t yet clear, the bioactive MP-1 interacts with two phospholipids that are abnormally distributed in tumor cells. In particular, phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylethanolamine which, in healthy cells,