Researchers use nanobees to attack, prevent cancer

Nanoparticles effectively deliver cancer-killing bee venom to tumor cells

Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine are creating something of a nanobee to fight cancerous tumors.

Scientists at the St. Louis medical school announced this week that they are using nanoparticles to deliver the bee venom melittin through the body to kill cancerous tumor cells.

In an experiment with mice, the nanobees targeted the tumors and effectively stopped them from growing and even shrank them in some cases.

The university also reported that while the melittin-carrying nanoparticles can slow or even shrink some tumors, they also may be able to act at early stages to prevent cancer from even developing.

"The nanobees fly in, land on the surface of cells and deposit their cargo of melittin which rapidly merges with the target cells," says Dr. Samuel Wickline, who heads the Siteman Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence at Washington University. "We've shown that the bee toxin gets taken into the cells where it pokes holes in their internal structures."

Nanotechnology has playing an increasingly big role in battling cancer and other diseases.

Earlier this month, researchers at MIT announced that they have killed ovarian tumors in mice using nanoparticles that deliver killer genes to the cancer cells.

According to MIT, the findings could lead to a new treatment for ovarian cancer.

And in May, MIT scientists announced that they had developed gold nanoparticles that can target tumors and heat them with minimal side effects to nearby healthy cells.

The researchers said tumors in mice that received the gold nanorod treatment disappeared within 15 days. The cancer did not recur for the duration of the three-month study.

This news comes just months after MIT announced that a group of scientists had developed nanotechnology that can be placed inside living cells to determine whether chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer are reaching their targets or attacking healthy cells.

Researchers use carbon nanotubes wrapped in DNA so they can be safely injected into living tissue.

In this week's news out of Washington University, researchers tested the nanotube/melittin treatment on mice with breast tumors and mice with melanoma.

The university reported that after four to five injections of the melittin-carrying nanoparticles over several days, growth of the tumors slowed by nearly 25 per cent, and the size of the mice's melanoma tumors decreased by 88 per cent compared to untreated tumors.

Melittin is a small protein that is strongly attracted to cell membranes. Once it reaches the membrane, it can open up pores and break up the cells.

"Nanobees are an effective way to package the useful, but potentially deadly, melittin, sequestering it so that it neither harms normal cells nor gets degraded before it reaches its target," said Paul Schlesinger, a medical doctor and associate professor of cell biology and physiology, in a statement

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags cancernanotechnology

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?