A chemical in wasp venom might kill cancer cells and leave healthy cells alone.

Wasps.

Pictured here: bees, not wasps. But you probably don't care because Nic Cage getting attacked by a swarm of anything is hilarious. GIF from "The Wicker Man."


Recent scientific research from a new study published in the Biophysical Journal suggests a certain type of wasp might be good for more than torturing Nicolas Cage.

Yep, there's evidence that an ingredient in the venom of at least one species of wasp can target, and seriously mess up, cancer cells (in a good way).

According to researchers:

The antimicrobial peptide Polybia-MP1 (IDWKKLLDAAKQIL-NH2), or simply MP1, has unexpectedly been shown to exhibit selective inhibition against several types of cancerous cells and therefore could prove advantageous in the development of novel chemotherapies. Extracted from the Brazilian wasp Polybia paulista, MP1 has a broad spectrum of bactericidal activities against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria without being hemolytic and cytotoxic.

Which means ... what, exactly?

Basically, the wasp venom chemical attacks the cell membranes of cancer cells, which exposes and, ultimately, kills them.

The human immune system attacking a tumor. Go get 'em, tiger! Photo by Susan Arnold/Wikimedia Commons.

The best part? The compound from the wasp venom doesn't seem to harm noncancerous cells.

Many chemotherapy drugs are, at their core, basically poison. The theory goes that, while they hurt your cells, they hurt the cancer worse. It's why people often lose all their hair.

The wasp venom appears to only target cancer cells and leave normal cells alone, which is kind of amazing.

Nic Cage's best self. GIF from "The Michael McIntyre Chat Show."

This is a good reason to make sure we don't accidentally kill all the wasps.

A wasp, chillin' on a flower. Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images.

We know climate change is already wreaking havoc on bee populations all around the world, and fluctuations in temperature are leading to irregularities in wasp populations in some countries as well.

That's not great news. 'Cause despite their general unpleasantness at a picnic, it's looking like we need wasps to stick around.

The bottom line: A potential treatment that kills cancer without harming healthy cells and making people hella sick? Yes, please.

The more good quality, pain-free therapy options out there, the better.

Again, bees. Still funny. GIF from "The Wicker Man."

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.