Study: Wasp Venom May Be Able to Kill Cancer Cells Without Damaging Healthy Cells


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Written by: Jenna Barrington

Just more proof that nature has our back – researchers are now investigating Brazilian Wasps for their venom’s ability to attack cancer cells.

Aside from entomologists, no one really cares for wasps. They don’t make tasty honey, their sting can be very painful and they’re not all that interesting to look at.

Turns out wasps have their own potentially life-saving secret a toxin in their venom targets cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells alone.  

The toxin is called MP1 (Polybia-MP1). Researchers have found that this toxin targets the arrangement of lipids in the membranes of cancerous cells. In other words, wasp venom has the potential to blast holes in the membranes of diseased cells while causing no damage to healthy cells.


Once the venom leaves gaping holes in the cell membranes, the cell cannot continue to function and eventually dies.

As quoted in the study findings:

“The MP1 peptide has been shown to have selective inhibition against numerous cancer lines compared to healthy cells. Such malignant cells are also known to have increased expression of PS and PE lipids on their outer plasma membrane. This study strongly correlates the enhanced tumor inhibitory effects of these peptides with this pathological change in plasma membrane lipid composition, where the upregulation of PS and PE lipids can synergistically enhance the membrane-permeabilizing activity of MP1. This membrane permeabilization is likely to be the primary mechanism of cancer cell death induced by these peptides.”

“This suggests that MP1 might be a candidate therapeutic for development of novel cancer therapies, or at least guide the development of novel lead compounds for treatment of these diseases.”

“The selectivity of the MP1 peptide to disrupt the membranes of cancer cells may act synergistically with these other drugs to significantly enhance the therapeutic potency. Therefore, the therapeutic potential of this and other membrane-active peptides within the field of oncology is worthy of further investigation.”

You can read the full study In the Biophysical Journal here.

We are always excited to hear about new research going on in the world finding natural treatments to feared and deadly diseases. The future is bright.

Are there new scientific findings in the world of health and medicine that you think FitLife would be interested in? Please comment below!


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Jenna Barrington
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Jenna Barrington

Jenna Barrington is studying Therapeutic Nutrition and Holistic Medicine and aspires to be a practitioner, teacher and writer. She is passionate about education and helping others take control of their health.

Jenna lives with her husband in Utah and loves writing, cooking, green smoothies, training her dog, Japanese, spending time at the ocean, bungee jumping, walking barefoot in the grass and being with her family.
Jenna Barrington
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