Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bees Are Good For Your Blood Pressure

Okay, I don't really think of bees as having either venoms or toxins, but thank god most scientists (and apiarists?) don't think like me. Don't get me wrong, I would be a kickass mad scientist, monkeying around with venoms and toxins to produce totally badass effects, but I wouldn't start with honeybees.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have modified honeybee venom toxin to use as a new diagnostic tool. It turns out that this modified toxin can be used to study hypertension (by stopping the flow of potassium ions across cell membranes by plugging up the opening of Kir channels on the outside of cells, if you absolutely must know).

Hopefully, they'll find some results before colony collapse disorder kills all the honeybees.

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The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
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