Bee Venom May Help Treat MS, Depression and Dementia
ScienceDaily (July 9, 2010) — Scientists researching a toxin extracted from the venom of the honey bee have used this to inform the design of new treatments to alleviate the symptoms of conditions such as muscular dystrophy, depression and dementia.
Apamin, a natural peptide toxin found in bee venom, is known for its ability to block a type of ion channel that enables a high-speed and selective flow of potassium ions out of nerves. The blocking of these channels in brain causes nerves to become hyperexcitable, producing improved learning that has implications for the treatment of dementia and depression. In addition, injection of apamin improves the symptoms experienced by sufferers of myotonic muscular dystrophy (MD).
Until now, the exact mechanism by which apamin acts was poorly understood. In a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, two teams from the University of Bristol and the University of Liege in Belgium describe the results of their joint work on these KCa2 potassium ion channels, also called SK channels.
Using computer models and a genetic approach, the researchers were able to pinpoint exactly where apamin binds to block the channel. To block ion channels, most molecules act as a plug at their external mouth. Perhaps surprisingly, the researchers have discovered that apamin binds away from the channel pore, and causes the shape of the channel to change through an 'allosteric' mechanism, resulting in block
This discovery could accelerate research into the design of new SK channel blockers which could imitate the action of apamin, to target SK channels in neural and muscular conditions such as dementia, depression or MD…Posted by Editor at 1:00 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Bee Venom Therapy Used to Treat Shingles, Multiple Sclerosis and Menopause
Being stung by a bee would have most people rushing for the medicine cabinet or even hospital in the event of a severe reaction.
But in Japan, China and many other countries there is a long history of using bee stings to treat rheumatism, arthritis and a range of other chronic ailments.
While New Zealand companies are producing honey and other products containing bee venom for medicinal purposes, few are using the direct sting from live bees. However, in a quiet rural property in Hope where he lives with his family, Yukiyasu Uda uses bee sting therapy to supplement his acupuncture practice, which he rather neatly calls apipuncture.
The technique involves delicately removing the stinger and venom sac from the bee using tweezers and then using it to briefly prick patients at pressure points much the way an acupuncture needle is used.
The theory is that the venom stimulates the adrenal gland to produce cortisol, a natural steroid hormone which helps reduce inflammation, eases pain and increases blood circulation.
The genial 61-year-old, who has a doctorate and is a member of the Japan Apitherapy Association, will explain his work and its benefits at the National Beekeepers Conference in Nelson on Sunday.
He has been practising bee sting therapy for 15 years since a doctor friend and his wife who were having trouble having children used it to successfully to start a family.
That sparked his interest and he studied and trained in the therapy which is used by beekeepers throughout Japan.
Until the last couple of years, he used to spend more than six months of the year in Japan where such treatments are more widely accepted.
In New Zealand, he concedes many people remain nervous about the risk of allergic reactions.
But he says honey bee venom is not as toxic as wasps' and he is careful to get people accustomed to tolerating it by either brushing them with it first or only stinging them for a couple of seconds so they don't feel strong pain and then slowly increasing the time the sting is left in. For children the sting is in only momentarily so they don't feel any pain.
He says most of his patients can move much more easily after treatment, saying it is also useful for those suffering from back ache, frozen shoulder, shingles, multiple sclerosis and menopause…
Bee Venom Used to Treat Allergies, Cancer
Bee venom, along with wasp venom, is used to treat hay fever. The technique, known as immunotherapy, involves repeated doses of bee or wasp venom, grass pollen or extract of dust mite to build up the patient's tolerance.
The injections are given over a five-year period and usually stop your insect allergy symptoms completely with long-term protection. The treatment is widely used in the rest of Europe, though only privately in the UK.
Bee venom may also be engineered to target tumours and could prove an effective future treatment for cancer. In a trial at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, melittin, the poisonous chemical in a bee's sting, was attached to tiny molecules or 'nanoparticles'.
These, in turn, attacked and destroyed cancer cells, leaving healthy cells intact. In addition, the carrier particles, dubbed 'nanobees', were effective in targeting pre-cancerous cells.