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Bugs as Drugs

oil beetle
Photo: © 2010 Dr. Art Evans

Entomologist Dr. Art Evans and WCVE producer Steve Clark discuss how insects and the chemical compounds they produce can be used in the development of therapeutic drugs.

Photo: Blister beetles, such as oil beetles (Meloe species) secrete a yellowish defensive blistering compound from their leg joints called cantharidin. In the laboratory, cantharidin has been shown promise in laboratory experiments in reducing the size of many kinds of cancerous tumors. Modified analogs of cantharidin have been used in China to treat some forms of human cancers.

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