Sting of Tiny nanobee can kill cancer

Scientists have developed macroscopic bees armed with poison that causes the pain of stings to target cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue unharmed. The nanobees which are thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair that can rapidly shrank breast & skin tumours in tests.

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They home in on the diseased cells before pumping out the melittin venom, delivering a deadly 'sting'. At their core are beads made from perfluorocarbon, an inert material used in artificial blood. The nanobees are tiny enough to pass easily through blood & attach to cells but big enough to ferry drugs into the body.

“They fly in, land on the surface of cells & deposit their cargo of melittin, which rapidly merges with the target. We've shown the bee toxin gets taken into the cells where it pokes holes in their internal structures,” said Professor Samuel Wickline. The nanoparticle packaging stops the melittin doing any damage as it travels to the tumour as well as protecting it from being broken down by the body.

They took trial on mice & found that the particles zeroed in on the tumours. Growth of breast tumours slowed by almost a quarter and skin cancer tumour shrank by 75 %. Breast tumours & skin cancer tumours killed thousands of people every year around the world. Many other cancers, including prostate & bowel, may also be cowed by the sting.

Importantly, the drug did not appear to cause side-effects, cutting the risk of symptoms such as hair loss & nausea. Nanobees are an effective way to package the useful, but potentially deadly, melittin so that it neither harms normal cells nor gets degraded before it reaches its target.

The scientists said melittin was 'easily and cheaply produced'. They also believe that nanobees could stop the spread of damaged cells which have the potential to become cancerous. Further tests on animals are needed before the nanobees can be given to people.

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