A possible new weapon against cancer has come from a surprising source, thanks to a team of researchers from the University of Brazil. The venom from a Brazilian wasp can potentially be extracted and used to kill isolated cancer cells without harming the healthy cells around them.
According to Pakistan Tribe, the team has developed a new form of experimental therapy, utilizing the weapon against cancer by attaching the Brazilian wasp venom to tumors and forcing them to “leak vital molecules,” thereby shrinking the growth. The toxins dissolve fat molecules on the surface of cancer cells, creating large holes that allow molecules crucial for the cancer cells to function to spill out.
The study authors report that these gaping holes in cancer cells only take a few seconds to form, according to the Huffington Post.
“Formed in only seconds, these large pores are big enough to allow critical molecules such as RNA and proteins to easily escape cells,” said author João Ruggiero Neto.
Dr. Paul Beales from the University of Leeds spoke about the potential new treatment, noting that, if this new weapon against cancer works, it will be an entirely new classification of cancer treatment.
“This could be useful in developing new combination therapies, where multiple drugs are used simultaneously to treat a cancer by attacking different parts of the cancer cells at the same time.”
The venom comes from the Polybia paulista, an aggressive species of wasp from southeastern Brazil. Each insect contains a toxin known as MP1, which is used by the animal as a defensive and offensive mechanism. But if the venom could be controlled by science and converted into a weapon against cancer, the subsequent medical advancements could change the world.
The University of Brazil team has tested the wasp venom in mice, consistently demonstrating that the MP1 toxin could be targeting and destroying cancer cells within rodents. The study is still in its early phases, and it will take much more research and experimentation before scientists can be certain the new weapon against cancer can be used safely and effectively on human patients.
“This early stage research increases our understanding of how the venom of the Brazilian wasp can kill cancer cells in the laboratory,” said Dr. Aine McCarthy from Cancer Research UK. “But while these findings are exciting, much more work is needed in the lab and in clinical trials before we will know if drugs based on this research could benefit cancer patients.”
Do you think the University of Brazil has actually discovered an effective weapon against cancer?
For another weapon against cancer, read the top four most promising cures for cancer.
[Image credit: Professor Mario Palma / Sao Paulo State University]