… Melittin, a small protein made up of 26 amino acids, comprises about 50 percent of the dry weight of bee venom and is considered one of its major components. Previous studies have linked the antimicrobial and anti-cancer effects of bee venom to melittin, although the mechanisms behind these activities are poorly understood.
For their study, the American-Australian team investigated the anti-cancer properties of honey bee venom and melittin by testing both on normal breast cells, as well as different breast cancer cells. They found that honey bee venom and melittin significantly and rapidly reduced the viability of even the most aggressive subtypes, namely, triple-negative breast cancer and HER2-enriched breast cancer cells.
The researchers also reported that melittin exerted its anti-cancer effects using two mechanisms. First, it suppressed the activation of signaling pathways involved in cancer cell growth and proliferation. Secondly, it induced cell death by poking holes in the plasma membranes of cancer cells. The researchers observed this effect within an hour of exposure to melittin.
Despite the toxic effects of honey bee venom and melittin on breast cancer cells, neither caused any damage to healthy cells. The researchers said that both are promising anti-cancer agents that can be used in combination with chemotherapy. Melittin showed that it could enhance the effect of docetaxel, a chemotherapeutic drug used to suppress the growth of breast tumors, in mice….