USF Researchers Search for Bee Venom to Treat Potentially Deadly Heart Disease

TAMPA, Florida ( – Two USF researchers from different fields of research have teamed up to develop a new treatment for a potentially fatal heart disease.

This is a collaborative work that arose after a chance meeting at the chalkboard in the hallway.

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Dr. Sami Nujaim has been working on his idea for a new, non-invasive treatment for atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that affects more than 12 million Americans and can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Stuck on how to move forward, he asked Dr. Michael Teng to weigh his mind.

Ten was returning to his office next door when Nujaim stopped him.

“We started working on it and it was a really great collaboration,” Tan said. “One of those unique accidents that only happens when you’re actually around each other and talking to each other.”

Nujaim’s idea was to use a peptide found in the venom of the European honey bee to treat a condition commonly called atrial fibrillation, which causes an abnormal heart rhythm. The problem was to figure out how to deliver the bioengineered peptide to the patient and ensure its duration in the body.

Teng, assistant professor of allergy and immunology, proposed to attach the peptide to the antibody.

“You have people from two different areas talking to each other, and you can give birth to something much more than one person could achieve,” Nujaim said.

As the two researchers continue to work on the idea of ​​co-treatment, they envision this becoming a monthly option for patients who are currently on daily medication. Now they are working with doctors in Spain to develop it further.

So far, the bee-inspired peptide has been tested in mice and sheep, but human trials have yet to take place.

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