Bee venom, according to a new study, has a toxic protein that can assist in improving the efficacy of drugs used to diagnose and treat cancer.
This research shows how modified melittin may revolutionize treatments for cancer and perhaps other conditions, such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and serious infections.
"This type of transporter agent may help in the design and use of more personalized treatment regimens that can be selectively targeted to tumors and other diseases," said Samuel A. Wickline, a researcher involved in the work from the Consortium for Translational Research in Advanced Imaging and Nanomedicine (C-TRAIN) at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.
To make this discovery, Wickline and colleagues designed and tested variations of the melittin protein to derive a stable compound that could be inserted into liposomal nanoparticles and into living cells without changing or harming them.
They then tested the ability of this protein, or "transporter agent," to attach to different therapeutic compounds and enhance drug therapy without causing harmful side effects.
In addition, their results suggest that the base compound, which is used to create the transporter agent may improve tumor therapy as well.
The study has been described in the August 2010 print issue of the FASEB Journal.