Scientists claim that the venom of a wasp native to Brazil, Polybia paulista, could be life-saving.
According to a study, the wasp’s venom contains a toxin named MP1. MPS selectively destroys tumor cells without harming normal ones. This venom has since been categorized as a potential powerful weapon against cancer.
During lab tests, MP1 was found to inhibit the growth of prostate and bladder cancer cells in addition to leukemia cells which has demonstrated to be resistant to a variety of other drugs.
The toxin interacts with fatty molecules known as lipids that are found on the outside of cancer cell membranes. The toxin then disrupt the structure of the protective membranes which creates holes that allow molecules which are critical to the survival of the cancer cell to leak out.
Because healthy cells do not have lipids on their exterior, they do not appear to be susceptible to the wasp toxin the way cancer cells are.
One of the study’s authors asserts that cancer therapies which attack the lipid composition of the cell membrane would be an entirely new class of anticancer drugs. This finding could be useful in developing new combination therapies where multiple drugs are used simultaneously to treat cancer by attacking difference parts of the cancer cells at the same time.
Although the use of the wasp’s venom as a treatment is an option it is highly theoretical.
Scientists are now working to understand the mechanism of action of MP1in order to further assess the potential for this toxin to be used in medicine.
Although the toxin has shown to be selective to cancer cells and non-toxic to normal cells in the lab, this peptide has the potential to be safe, however further investigation will be required to prove that.