Honeybee Venom Kills Aggressive Breast Cancer Cells, Study Shows
A new study out of Australia found that honeybee venom rapidly killed the cells for triple-negative breast cancer, a type of breast cancer that currently has few treatment options.
"It provides another wonderful example of where compounds in nature can be used to treat human diseases," said Western Australia Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken in a Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research press release.
The research, published in Nature Precision Oncology Tuesday, was led by Dr. Ciara Duffy of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and the University of Western Australia.
Perkins and @uwanews researcher Dr Ciara Duffy has found that honeybee venom can induce cancer cell death in hard t… https://t.co/N29IwLsu0s— The Perkins (@The Perkins)1599006977.0
As far back as 1950, bee venom was shown to kill tumors in plants. It has also been shown to work against other cancers like melanoma, BBC News explained. However, Duffy said in the press release that this was the first time honeybee venom had been tested against every type of breast cancer cell, as well as normal breast cells.
Duffy and her team tested both the venom itself and a synthetic version of a compound in the venom called melittin. They found that both were effective against triple-negative breast cancer and HER2-enriched breast cancer cells. In fact, a certain concentration of honeybee venom could kill 100 percent of cancer cells without seriously impacting healthy ones.
"The venom was extremely potent," Duffy said.
Duffy explained to Australia's ABC News how the melittin worked.
"What melittin does is it actually enters the surface, or the plasma membrane, and forms holes or pores and it just causes the cell to die," Duffy said.
The researchers also found that the melittin interfered with the cancer cells' messaging system, which is essential for the cancer to reproduce and grow.
The fact that melittin makes holes in the cancer cells actually means it could potentially be paired with existing chemotherapies that would enter the cancer cells through the openings it carved and kill them. Duffy found this treatment strategy worked to shrink tumors in mice.
However, outside scientists cautioned that there is a big difference between killing cancer in a lab and successfully treating it in humans.
"It's very early days," Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney associate professor Alex Swarbrick told BBC News. "Many compounds can kill a breast cancer cell in a dish or in a mouse. But there's a long way to go from those discoveries to something that can change clinical practice."
Duffy agreed that more research had to be done before the melittin could be used on human patients.
"There's a long way to go in terms of how we would deliver it in the body and, you know, looking at toxicities and maximum tolerated doses before it ever went further," she told ABC News.
For the study, Duffy gathered venom from 312 honeybees and bumblebees in Perth, Western Australia; England; and Ireland.
"Perth bees are some of the healthiest in the world," she said.
She found that the national origin of the honeybees did not alter their venom's impact on the cancer. The bumblebee venom, however, had no cancer-killing powers.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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