Making Of Antibiotic Drug By Using Wasp Venom

Latest researches have been working on manufacturing an anti-bacterial medicine(antibiotic) by using the wasp venom, thus providing protection to humans.

By Aqsa Ashraf and Maryam Imran


Latest researches have been working on manufacturing an anti-bacterial medicine(antibiotic) by using the wasp venom, thus providing protection to humans. Wasp venom serves this purpose due to the presence of small peptide called Mastoparan-L having molecular weight 1422Da.

There are certain compounds present in wasp venom that are capable of killing bacteria and providing protection to humans against bacterial infections. But they are toxic in their original form therefore some alterations have to be made in order to make it more toxic for bacteria and safer and protective for humans.

A small peptide called Mastoparan-L in the Asian wasp species, was found and examined. This peptide is composed of 12 amino acids, having alpha helical structure which is capable of developing strong interaction with cell membrane of bacterial cell hence disrupting it. Disruption of cell membrane leads to the death of bacterial cell.

 Arrangements are made to decrease its toxicity for humans and making it more toxic for bacterial cells. Therefore, the main focus of scientists was anti-bacterial peptide from wasp, Polybia paulista and worked on it. Many variants of this peptide chain have been created in order to analyze their toxicity and effects on humans. For instance, pentapeptide motif which has an ability to kill bacteria was attached with the one end of the mastoparan-L by replacing a section at the respective end. This resulted in a new molecule called mastoparan-MO. In addition to these scientists have changed amino acids to study its impact on bacteria. The following diagram shows Mastoparan-L and its variants:

And during the trials Pseudomonas aeruginosa which is a gram-negative bacterium was given to human embryonic kidney cells grown in lab and mice. Some mice were given the natural mast-L peptide means without anti-microbial pentapeptide motif. In such mice severe reactions were observed and survival rate was minimum. Whereas some mice were given Mastoparan-Mo, they did not develop reactions and survival rate was high approximately 80%.  

But it has some side effects if it is inoculated in higher amounts into the human body. Moreover, it has an ability to destroy RBCs causing allergies or inflammatory reactions leading to anaphylaxis a state in which blood pressure is lowered and becomes difficult for a person to breathe.

In many countries such as Brazil and America experiments are being done by altering the above-mentioned peptide structure in order to treat bacterial infections. Some scientists believe that alteration of structure can be done for other antibacterial drugs, hence making them more toxic for bacteria. Resultantly, wasp venom can be proved of great value in coming days.


Anne Trafton | MIT News Office. MIT engineers repurpose wasp venom as an antibiotic drug [Internet]. MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology. [cited 2020Nov6]. Available from:

Authors: Aqsa Ashraf and Maryam Imran, Genetics Department, Kinnaird College for Women University, Lahore.

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