The venom found in a wasp's sting could potentially be a life-saving cure for cancer sufferers, according to a new study from Brazil.
The key to this bold claim lies with a molecule known as Polybia-MP1 (MP1).
It is found in a particular species of wasp, Polybia paulista, native to Brazil and scientists have discovered its cancer-fighting properties in a research study.
MPI targets cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells alone, by focusing on the abnormal distribution of lipids around cancer cells.
Lipids, the building blocks of fat, along with basic protein molecules are key to maintaining the membrane around any cell, forming a contained area in which cellular reactions can take place in.
However, according to a paper published in Biophysical Journal, MPI attacks these lipids and causes "pores" or gaps to form within the membrane.
This allows all vital molecules required for cells to function properly to leak out, resulting in cancer cells dying.
"Formed in only seconds, these large pores are big enough to allow critical molecules such as RNA and proteins to easily escape cells," explaines study co-author João Ruggiero Neto of São Paulo State University.
"This research would take cancer treatment beyond our current options, according to Paul Beales another co-author of the study, from the University of Leeds in the UK.
"This could be useful in developing new combination therapies, where multiple drugs are used simultaneously to treat a cancer by attacking different parts of the cancer cells at the same time," he told Phys.org.
While the findings provide a much needed window into how cells interact with anti-cancerous molecules, experts have warned against getting too excited as the research still needs to be taken through clinical trials before it can be administered in hospitals.
Speaking to the BBC, Dr. Aine McCarthy, science information officer for Cancer Research UK said: "This early stage research increases our understanding of how the venom of the Brazilian wasp can kill cancer cells in the laboratory.
"But while these findings are exciting, much more work is needed in the lab and in clinical trials before we will know if drugs based on this research could benefit cancer patients."