Bee Venom: A Cure for HIV?

HIV_beevenomSince it was first clinically observed in 1981, HIV/AIDS has been responsible for an estimated 25 million people worldwide. Since 2010, an estimated 34 million people were diagnosed with HIV, most of whom live within the developing world. In spite of anti-viral medicines which makes HIV manageable, countless people still die as a result of improper treatment or a lack of access.

As such, its little wonder then why medical researchers have been working for decades to find a cure. If it were possible to inoculate against the spread of HIV, the disease would all but disappear within a few generations. In addition, if it were possible to cure those already infected, and worldwide access were assured, HIV and AIDS could very well be eliminated in a decade or less.

HIV-budding-ColorNot too long ago, researchers at Caltech experimented with HIV antibodies which could very well lead to a vaccine in the near future. But even more exciting than this was the announcement from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis earlier this month, where a research team demonstrated that nanoparticles infused with a toxic bee venom were capable of killing HIV. With this latest breakthrough, it seems that the days of one of the greatest plagues in history may truly be numbered.

The key to this discovery, which was made by Samuel A. Wickline and his team at the Washington University, involves what is known as cytolyic melittin peptides. Melittin is found in bee venom, and it has the fortuitous trait of being able to degrade the protective envelope that surrounds HIV. When delivered in both large and free concentrations, they observed that HIV was unable to withstand the assault and died.

HIVnano_primaryMoreover, these melittin-loaded nanoparticles left the surrounding cells unharmed, which incidentally was no accident. The nanoparticles Wickline and his team developed were endowed with a kind of filter that prevents healthy cells from coming into contact with the toxin. But HIV, since its a viral strain, is small enough to sift right through these filters, thus exposing it to the toxin.

Currently, all known forms of HIV treatment involve preventing the virus from replicating to the point that it will morph into AIDS. By contrast, this new process targets the virus where it lives, focusing on killing on it rather than limiting its ability to reproduce. Adding to the general sense of excitement is speculation that this same concept could be used to combat other infectious STDs, including hepatitis B and C.

As a topical gel, suggestions are already circling that melittin-loaded nanoparticles could be combined with spermicidal cream to create the ultimate contraceptive that can also protect against STDs. Not only would this ensure truly safe sex, combined with melittin-treatment treatments for the infected and preventative vaccinations, it would also open up another front on the “war on HIV”.

My thanks to Rami for bringing this article to my attention. Since he pointed it out, its been making quite a few waves in the medical community and general public! Stories like these give me hope for the future…

Source:, IO9


21 Comments on “Bee Venom: A Cure for HIV?”

  1. rami ungar the writer March 15, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    You’re welcome, man. I’m glad I’ve been able to make someone’s day.

  2. Rhys C. Ethan March 15, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    Let’s hope the cure is finally here. This is a true scientific miracle

  3. Scintillatebrightly March 16, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    God, I hope there’s a cure soon. Did you hear about the baby in the US that was cured? That was fairly recent news too.

    • storiesbywilliams March 16, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      Absolutely, I did. That was only the second case since HIV was diagnosed that a child born with it was cured. I’m thinking I should do an article on that too…

      • Scintillatebrightly March 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

        absolutely you should. I don’t always read all of your articles, but you’re definitely my one stop shop on all the most interesting innovations and pure SFy sort of things out there. Gotta say, I do really enjoy your blog.

      • storiesbywilliams March 16, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

        WHAAAAAT?! Don’t always read all MY ARTICLES?! And why is that??? There are too many? The subject matter is not always your cup of tea?? They can sometimes be strange and unbelievably esoteric??? You’re busy and don’t have the time with your busy schedule????

        Yeah, I could see that… thanks! ;)

      • Scintillatebrightly March 16, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

        LOL all of the above, or none of the above? I read the ones that interest me the most. Being a nerdy sf fan, most of them interest me one way or the other, but my personal favs are the ones where we’re on the step of realizing shit I thought would take centuries to realize, and yet now…somehow we’re on the brink. We really do live in the future, don’t we?

      • storiesbywilliams March 16, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

        Oh hell yeah, and it’s exciting isn’t it? I do sometimes worry about the cost to our humanity where certain types of augmentation are involved, not to mention heightened competition and the pace of life which is likely to increase. But bring on cures for all known diseases, clean energy, and colonizing new worlds!

  4. likeitiz March 16, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    I wonder if the isolate in the bee venom is distinct from that which causes anaphylaxis. That would be quite a challenge.and if it’s separate, the challenge would be to ensure purity of the desired extract.

    • storiesbywilliams March 16, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

      Perhaps, but the nanoparticle solution they pair it with ensures that it doesn’t get into your cells and poison you. It ensures that only things like foreign bodies are effected.

      • likeitiz March 17, 2013 at 7:37 am #

        Most allergenic proteins cause the release of immunologic proteins, release from such cells as ,sat cells and the like. They don have to enter cell walls.

        This is a very interesting turn of events. I wonder if it can be as monumental as the discovery of penicillin.

      • storiesbywilliams March 17, 2013 at 10:17 am #

        Fair enough, but if they are contained with particles that ensure it only attacks the virus that ought to prevent or at least limit the body’s immuno defenses, wouldn’t it?

      • likeitiz March 17, 2013 at 10:19 am #

        More studies would be needed to address cross-reactivity. But, it’s a wonderful challenge. I can see how scientists would love to get their hands on this possibility and take a stab at it.

  5. David Ejukorlem May 23, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    It is truly great and promising.Having been exposed to the virus, I will like to be informed on how to obtain the bee venom nanoparticules.

  6. David Ejukorlem May 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    I will like to know how one can get hold nanoparticules stuffed with bee venom.

    • storiesbywilliams May 23, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

      For that, you’ll have to wait until clinical trials are finished and it get approved. I’d advise speaking to your doctor, as they’d have up to date information, most likely.

      • David Ejukorlem May 25, 2013 at 5:06 am #

        What about those who claim to have bee venom treatment in Egypt. And is it possible to bee venom powder, as injectables?

      • David Ejukorlem June 14, 2013 at 2:24 am #

        You have not commented on this bee venom cure for hiv, for some time.
        I will love that you keep me posted on progress being made. Thanks.

      • storiesbywilliams June 14, 2013 at 10:43 am #

        There hasn’t really been much in the way of updates. The latest story came in late May when the issue was brought up with regards to colony collapse disorder, but they cite the same studies made last year. But the results are still saying its a workable cure. It will just take time to get out on the market.

      • David Ejukorlem June 14, 2013 at 11:25 am #

        Thanks for responding so quickly to my inquiry. I am banking on you to keep me posted on any new stuff out there relating to the subject.

      • storiesbywilliams June 14, 2013 at 11:55 am #

        I shall do my best. It would also be good to get your health care practitioner to keep their eye out for this. Chances are, they’d be in the know before I am on experimental medicine and they’re sure to know first of when it becomes available. Combined with the work on a vaccine and the software models of the virus though, we’re likely to have full-on cures and preventative treatments in five years or so.

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