Injecting bee venom into knees of patients may halt arthritis

Bee sting therapy

Bee sting therapy

A jab made from bee venom could help millions of arthritis sufferers.

Scientists have developed tiny nanoparticles that can be injected straight into painful knees, using a peptide found in the insects’ poison.

The peptide, called melittin, has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect that halts the destruction of cartilage, the body’s built-in ‘shock absorber’.

Experts who tested the jab on mice think the sooner it is given after a sporting injury or accident, the less likely it is the joint will later be affected by osteoarthritis.

But they are also hopeful the bee venom particles will help those who have suffered the painful condition for years. The latest breakthrough, by scientists from Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, United States (U.S.), could transform treatment.

They developed tiny particles, each one containing a minute amount of melittin, too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Because the particles are so small, once they are injected into the knee they are more likely to find their way into damaged tissue.

The results of their tests on mice, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed the bee venom jabs rapidly dampened down the inflammation, which damages cartilage.

They compared the results with steroid injections, which can have a similar effect.

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