Wasp Venom and Cancer

Wasp Stinger

Wasp Stinger

One of the reasons for preservation of biodiversity is to maintain sources for biomaterials “mining”. Stinging wasps are known for producing unique toxins that can have profound biological effects. Wasps use their venoms for defense or to immobilize prey. The venom must act on cells of the the target organism to be effective.  Medical researchers are exploring wasp venom toxins for novel agents with potential for therapeutic uses.

The Brazilian wasp, Polybia paulista, produces a toxin called Polybia-MPI that specifically affects cells containing significant titers of the lipid, phosphatidylserine (PS), on the cell surface. This lipid can be common on tumor cells but is mostly absent from the surface of healthy cells. Polybia-MPI is an antibacterial peptide that selectively affects cells with external PS. Polybia-MPI acts on the membranes of these cells, making them “leaky” and ultimately killing the cell. Desirable features of Polybia-MPI are its selectivity and mode of action. Its target site and mode of action are unique and it is an effect agent against cancer cells that become resistant to agents with different targets.

Kai-rong Wang, Jie-xi Yan, Bang-zhi Zhang Jing-jing Song, Peng-fei Jia, Rui Wang.  2009. Novel mode of action of polybia-MPI, a novel antimicrobial peptide, in multi-drug resistant leukemic cells.  Cancer Letters.  278:65-72.

 

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Health. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Wasp Venom and Cancer

  1. Pingback: Wasp Venom and Cancer | Entomo Planet

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