Could wasp venom be a cure for cancer?

Lab studies done by scientists in the University of Brazil suggest that the toxin (MP1) in the venom of a  Brazilian wasp (Polybia paulista) can kill cancer cells without harming normal cells.

The scientists found that MP1 interacts with fat molecules on the surface of cancer cells and creates wide holes that makes vital molecules leak out of the cells. Healthy cells would not be affected by this as the same molecules are hidden on the inside of these cells and so healthy cells are normally not affected by the toxin. Their findings are published in the Biophysical Journal.

The wasp venom could be used to develop new combination therapies, where the wasp venom and other drugs are used at the same time to treat a certain type of cancer by simultaneously attacking different parts of the cancer cells.

These findings do show that wasp venom could possibly be used to treat cancer in the future but this work is at an early stage and so more lab studies and clinical trials are needed to check if it will work safely in humans and if it will benefit cancer patients.



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