[Taxacom] Cancer curing wasp

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Mon Oct 31 13:18:20 CDT 2016

On 10/28/16 3:52 PM, John Grehan wrote:
> Dear colleagues,
> Here is a question that is not so much about taxonomy, but perhaps someone
> on this list is familiar with this topic concerning the wasp Polybia
> palulista. There are is some recent published work suggesting cancer curing
> properties and a youtube link is below. I am asking just out of general
> curiosity, if anyone knows the conservation status of the insect and how
> widespread its distribution.
> A friend of mine, who does not trust the pharmaceutical industry (and for
> good reason) offered the following assessment "My Prediction:
> pharmaceutical companies will most likely try too harness this venom ,
> experiment and mass produce it..while monsanto will try too systematically
> destroy the species through pesticides..therefore making the cure only
> available through a monopoly of greed ..and the earth loses a natural
> remedy and species of insect."
> Comment for or against equally of interest. Thanks.
/Polybia paulista/has the following distribution (from Jim Carpenter): 
Brazil: Goiás, Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais, Paraná, São Paulo; Paraguay; 
Argentina: Corrientes, Misiones, San Juan. /

/From Wikipedia: /"P. paulista/features a peptide Polybia-MP1 that 
causes increased permeability in cells featuring phospholipids 
phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) on the outer 
membrane. As cancer cells feature the PS and PE phospholipids on the 
outside of the cell membrane, unlike with non-cancerous cells where the 
peptides are on the inside of the cell membrane, they are susceptible to 
the peptide which causes increased cell permeability to a degree that 
molecules critical for cell function may leak out."

The reference given is: 

It is apparently not clear yet whether this chemical can be used /in 
vivo/ without adverse side-effects. As such, it may offer a mechanistic 
insight into a technique that could be used to fight cancer, even if 
this exact chemical cannot be incorporated into the treatment protocols.

The species is far too widespread to wipe it out, and the genus contains 
nearly 100 species, with a high likelihood that they may all possess 
similar (if not identical) peptides. Not something anyone is going to 
control or monopolize.


Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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