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Bee Venom Kills HIV (Just Another Reason To Save The Bees!)

Bee Venom Kills HIV (Just Another Reason To Save The Bees!)

Colony collapse disorder is decimating bee populations around the world. The possibility of losing our planet’s most industrious pollinator hasn’t motivated agencies like the EPA to protect them, but maybe this will: A team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis recently used nanoparticles carrying a toxin found in bee venom to destroy HIV without harming nearby cells.

According to study results, which appear in the current issue of Antiviral Therapy, bee venom contains a potent toxin called melittin that can poke holes in the protective envelope that surrounds HIV, and other viruses. The paper’s senior author, Samuel A. Wickline, MD, the J. Russell Hornsby Professor of Biomedical Sciences, has even shown that melittin-loaded nanoparticles to be effective in killing tumor cells.

What other naturally occurring substance do you know of that can tackle both HIV and cancer? Exactly.

The study’s authors believe that with further research, they could be able to create a vaginal gel, loaded with the bee venom particles, that could help prevent the spread of HIV.

According to Joshua L. Hood, a research instructor in medicine involved in the study, most anti-HIV drugs inhibit the virus’s ability to replicate. But this anti-replication strategy does nothing to stop initial infection, and some strains of the virus have found ways around these drugs and reproduce anyway. The bee venom toxin is different because it attacks an essential part of the virus’ structure. The melittin forms little pore-like attack complexes and ruptures the envelope, stripping it off the virus.

“We are attacking an inherent physical property of HIV,” Hood says. “Theoretically, there isn’t any way for the virus to adapt to that. The virus has to have a protective coat, a double-layered membrane that covers the virus.”

Because the bee venom toxin has been engineered not to attack healthy cells, a vaginal gel could be ideal for couples where one partner has HIV and they want to have a baby. It’s also theoretically possible that intravenous injections of the nanoparticles would be able to clear HIV from the blood stream, a virtual miracle for those who have tested positive.

Perfecting this treatment will take years. Let’s just hope the bees survive that long. Wouldn’t it be a shame to see a potential cure for HIV lost because we were too busy dumping bee-killing pesticides on everything in sight?

Related Reading:

Poisoned Bees Will Get Their Day In Court

All Abuzz About Bee Venom Treatment

Is This The HIV Cure We’ve Been Waiting For?

Read more: Alternative Therapies, Health, HIV/AIDS, , , , , , ,

Image via Thinkstock

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Beth Buczynski

Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog or check out her blog.


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3:36AM PDT on Mar 30, 2014

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9:48PM PST on Feb 1, 2014

Thanks for sharing :) Save the Bees!

9:04PM PST on Feb 1, 2014

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10:54PM PST on Jan 8, 2014

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10:28AM PDT on Jul 1, 2013

Well now i'm really hopeful 4 the bees plight---it they can serve humans--no doubt our ugly species will be coming up with every solution possible to save them. Thanks

5:53AM PDT on Jun 29, 2013

Let us hope this leads to some real therapy, and maybe it might also help with cancer. I know that bee stings are used for arthritic disorders.

11:41AM PDT on Jun 23, 2013

Bees are best!

5:46PM PDT on Jun 22, 2013

The bees pollinate our food as well as provide a cure for cancer and HIV.

11:01AM PDT on Jun 22, 2013

Please note your photo shows a wasp or yellow jacket, NOT any kind of bee.
This is not to say that wasps do not have their place in ecology but is not favoured by honey bee keepers as they will attack a a weak bee hive.

7:09AM PDT on Jun 22, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

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people are talking

Tweeter,Twitter,Twatter,I will never get into that! Thank You!

Thank goodness no snow in Florida, but good information to know if I go up north.

I think this is one of the silliest articles I have read in a long time. Cheese withdrawl? Serious…

Thanks for sharing.


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