Can a honeybee be the answer to stem cells staying young? It’s all about a compound called royal jelly which contains water, proteins, and sugars.
First some honeybee background. In honeybee hierarchy, there is a queen who lays eggs that will turn into larvae and become new bees. The queen also keeps the bee colony alive and organized. The male bees mate with the queen and the females do the work around the hive. When a queen dies, there must be a new one or the colony will die.
To find a new queen, the males will select larvae and feed it royal jelly. Eating this royal jelly will turn the larvae into a healthy and fertile female which will become a new queen bee.
The queen gets bigger and stronger than any other bee.
Studying Royal Jelly and Stem Cells
Scientists want to understand why the protein in royal jelly called royalactin stimulates cell growth and turns a regular honeybee larva into a queen bee.
Since the jelly must impact the cells early in their development, some studies are using mouse embryonic stem cells and royalactin to see what happens. Embryonic stem cells have the potential to turn into any specialized cell.
Researchers at Stanford University found a similar protein in mammals that kept mouse embryonic stem cells young, allowing them to multiply into other stem cells.
This breakthrough could hold the key to replacing aging or damaged cells with ones grown from stem cells and could help cure diseases and cure other ailments. This could help the body potentially heal itself and could be the future of regenerative medicine.
Royal Jelly Folklore
In parts of Asia and Europe, some people say royal jelly is a kind of super-medicine and is used as a dietary supplement. There haven’t been many studies of the impact royal jelly has on human health.
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