St. Louis Public Radio News
5:33 pm
Thu August 13, 2009

Researchers use bee venom, nanoparticles to kill cancer cells

St. Louis, MO –

St. Louis researchers say they've found a new way to treat cancer tumors by attaching a toxin from bee venom to nanoparticles.

Washington University researchers attached the toxin melettin to nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are miniscule materials that can travel through the blood stream directly to a tumor.

Lead researcher Dr. Sam Wickline said when mice were treated with nanoparticles containing melettin, their cancer tumors shrunk.

"Not only is it active, remains active in the bloodstream and gets to the site and does what it's supposed to do but it seems to cause absolutely no problems to any tissues or organs."

Wickline said doctors haven't been able to use melletin to treat cancer tumors in the past because in large doses it can kill healthy cells. He said clinical trials on people could begin in as soon as two to three years.