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UNBSJ researchers use ‘bee glue’ to treat rare blood cancer

By Joe Thomson Sep 6, 2023 | 9:39 AM

Aljaž Kavčič / Unsplash

Researchers at the University of New Brunswick Saint John have discovered what they call a ‘miracle cure’ for a rare form of blood cancer, and it’s based on a naturally occurring substance known as bee glue.

Bee glue, or propolis, is created by bees as they collect sticky sap from trees and mix it with their saliva. It’s an antimicrobial agent and they us it to protect their hives and support their overall health. Dr. Alli Murugesan, a UNBSJ biomedical and translational researcher, says that a synthetic version of bee glue has been found to effectively stop the growth of myeloma cancer cells.

Myeloma impacts about 4,000 people per year in Canada, with a mortality rate of roughly 40 percent, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. Most people who contract myeloma are elderly and treatment options can be very draining and invasive to the patient.

“Most myeloma patients who undergo treatment, at some point, relapse with the same cancer or develop secondary cancers. Through my collaborative research, I want to make a tangible difference in the lives of people with blood cancer,” said Dr. Murugesan.

The product is in the late stages of testing and was patented in Canada in 2020. Dr. Murugesan and her team are now attempting to get patented in the United States and hope the product will be available as a treatment option on the market in the near future.


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