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Bee venom could be key to a cancer cure, scientists say

Traveling Bees

Despite their grass-seed-sized brains, bees have signifcant computational prowess. (Flickr / Paul Stein)

Bee venom isn’t normally associated with good health, but researchers say it could be useful in treating some types of cancer, Time.com reported.

In a study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, scientists separated proteins and peptides from bee, snake and scorpion venom to test their ability to block tumor growth.

They found that a specific component of  venom, called melittin, can prevent cancer cells from spreading without harming patients. Because bees only produce a small amount of venom, researchers made synthetic melittin in the lab to test their theory.

“We have safely used venom toxins in tiny nanometer-sized particles to treat breast cancer and melanoma cells in the laboratory,” lead researcher Dipanjan Pan said in a statement. “These particles, which are camouflaged from the immune system, take the toxin directly to the cancer cells, sparing normal tissue.”

Pan says the next step is to start trials.

The findings were presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco.

Click here to read more from Time.com.