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April 20th Is fast approaching and with cannabis law reform such a hot topic in the news and the sun looking like its coming out to join us – it’s looking to be the biggest cannabis gathering the UK has ever seen! Make it personal If you know or are a medicinal user, write a slogan about how it helps you or somebody you know. Directly Challenge the Law If more people understood the hypocrisy of our current drugs laws, they wouldn’t support them.
So however you do it, have an amazing 420.Lets send our messages out to the world and tell the press how we feel! Every order is printed just for you here in the USA using eco-friendly inks on the highest quality garments such as American Apparel, District Clothing, and Alternative Apparel. It was apparent from the start that European journalist and media producer Evita Ramparte was no ordinary client.
Caused by corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which enter the body through the bite of a tick, Lyme disease is diagnosed in around 300,000 people every year in the United States.
But back in the spring of 1996, Ellie didn’t know to look for the characteristic bull’s-eye rash when she was bitten – she thought it was just a weird spider bite. She was just standing near a broken wall and a tree when the first bee appeared, she remembers, “just hitting me in the head”. Bees – and some other species in the order Hymenoptera, such as ants and wasps – are armed with a potent sting that many of us are all too aware of. When we experience high temperatures, our cells release inflammatory compounds that activate a special kind of channel, TRPV1, in sensory neurons. When the bees finally dissipated, her caregiver tried to take her to the hospital, but Ellie refused to go. Despite the wealth of history, the practical application of venoms in modern therapeutics has been minimal. King’s group was the first to put funnel-web venom through a separation method called high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), which can separate out different components in a mixture based on properties like size or charge. Over the course of the 20th century, suggested venom treatments for a range of diseases have appeared in scientific and medical literature. The more we learn about the venoms that cause such awful damage, the more we realise, medically speaking, how useful they can be. Because of this, melittin is a potent antimicrobial, fighting off a variety of bacteria and fungi with ease. For example, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri, have found that melittin can tear open HIV’s protective cell membrane without harming human cells. After the attack, Ellie watched the clock, waiting for anaphylaxis to set in, but it didn’t. Convinced by her experience and the limited research she found, Ellie decided to try apitherapy, the therapeutic use of materials derived from bees.
She started on a regimen of ten stings a day, three days a week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
The fact that venoms are mixtures of specifically targeted toxins rather than single toxins is exactly what makes them such rich sources of potential drugs – that’s all a drug is, really, a compound that has a desired effect on our bodies. Of the seven venom-derived pharmaceuticals on the international market, the most successful, captopril, was derived from a peptide found in the venom of the Brazilian viper (Bothrops jararaca). Bryan Fry, a colleague of Glenn King’s at the University of Queensland and one of the world’s most prolific venom researchers, says the captopril family and its derivatives still command a market worth billions of dollars a year. Since the 1997 study, no one had looked further into bee venom as a potential cure for Lyme disease, until Ellie. Ellie now runs a business selling bee-derived beauty products called BeeVinity, inspired after, she says, noticing how good her skin looked as she underwent apitherapy. Ellie has partnered with a bee farm that uses a special electrified glass plate to extract venom.
Sapi’s research into the venom’s effects on Lyme bacteria is ongoing and as yet unpublished, though she told me the results from preliminary work done by one of her students look “very promising”. The next step is to test whether melittin alone is responsible, or whether there are other important venom components.
ResourcesThe US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s information on lyme disease. Away from intensive agriculture and sheltered from the effects of climate change, our cities may be the refuges that bees and other pollinating insects need to survive.


ExtraCentipede pain reliefGlenn King thinks his lab may have discovered a major breakthrough in pain relief.
Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is free to reuse, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. This is a fantastic opportunity to have fun with friends, and take part in a mass act of peaceful civil disobedience. Then came three months with flu-like symptoms and horrible pains that moved around the body. She had a caregiver on hand to help her shuffle along the rural roads by her place in Wildomar, the place where she had chosen to die.
When she was two, a sting put her into anaphylaxis, a severe reaction of the body’s immune system that can include swelling, nausea and narrowing of the airways. All you hear is this overwhelming buzzing, and you feel them hitting your head, hitting your face, hitting your neck,” says Ellie. That is, until the past ten years or so, according to Glenn King at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Venoms have been shown to fight cancer, kill bacteria, and even serve as potent painkillers – though many have only gone as far as animal tests.
In the right doses, it punches holes in cells’ protective membranes, causing the cells to explode. And scientists are hoping to capitalise on this action to fight diseases like HIV, cancer, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. This envelope-busting method also stops the virus from having a chance to evolve resistance. We now know that most venoms are complex cocktails of compounds, with dozens to hundreds of different proteins, peptides and other molecules to be found in every one. Fry points to exenatide, a molecule found in the venom of a lizard, the gila monster, and the newest venom-derived pharmaceutical on the US market.
As the bees walk across the plate on the way to and from their hive, harmless currents stimulate the bees to release venom from their abdomens, leaving teeny little droplets on the glass, which are later collected.
Proceeds from her creams and other products support bee preservation initiatives, as well as Lyme disease research. Borrelia bacteria can shift between different forms in the body, which is part of what makes them so hard to kill. And it takes a lot of work – and money – to turn a discovery into a safe, working medicine. Such investigations required both knowledge of the venom’s clinical effects and large volumes of venom, so until now only large species, like snakes, with easily extracted venoms have been studied in any depth. There will be loads of pictures taken on Sunday and these images will be used to articulate what happened to those that didn’t attend.
If doctors correctly identify the cause of the illness early on, antibiotics can wipe out the bacteria quickly before they spread through the heart, joints and nervous system. Ellie was a fit, active woman with three kids, but her body did not know how to handle this new invader.
Perhaps the most important is a tiny 26-amino-acid peptide called melittin, which constitutes more than half of the venom of honey bees and is found in a number of other bees and wasps. Melittin subversively makes TRPV1 channels open by activating other enzymes that act just like those inflammatory compounds. In Chinese traditional medicine, scorpion venom is recognised as a powerful medicine, used to treat everything from eczema to epilepsy. In 1997, when Ellie was bouncing around from doctor to doctor, King was teasing apart the components of the venom from the Australian funnel-web, a deadly spider. At the time of writing, just six had been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for medical use (one other – Baltrodibin, adapted from the venom of the Lancehead snake – is not FDA approved, but is available outside the US for treatment of bleeding during operations).
At low doses, melittin associates with the membranes, activating lipid-cutting enzymes that mimic the inflammation caused by heat. A scientist by education before Lyme took its toll, Ellie thinks that these weren’t a part of an allergic response, but instead indicated a Jarisch–Herxheimer reaction – her body was being flooded with toxins from dying bacteria.
To perform the apitherapy, she uses tweezers to grab a bee and press it gently where she wants to be stung.
Slowly, she has reduced the number of stings and their frequency – just three stings in the past eight months, she tells me (and one of those she tried in response to swelling from a broken bone, rather than Lyme-related symptoms).


The cocktails vary between species and can even vary within them, by age, location or diet. Known by the brand name Byetta, this has the potential to treat type 2 diabetes, stimulating the body to release insulin and slow the overproduction of sugar, helping reverse the hormonal changes caused by the disease. Ellie says it takes 10,000 bees crossing that plate to get 1 gram of venom (other sources, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, quote 1 million stings per gram of venom), but “those bees are not harmed”. In addition, she sends some of the venom she purchases – which, due to the cost of the no-harm extraction method she uses, she says is “more expensive than gold” – to Eva Sapi, Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, who studies Lyme disease.
Sapi has found that other antibiotics don’t actually kill the bacteria but just push them into another form that is more dormant. But labs like King’s are starting to tap the pharmaceutical potential that lies in the full diversity of venomous species. It’s important that more than just the images of people lighting up in a park are passed on to the rest of the world. Mithradates VI of Pontus, a formidable enemy of Rome (and also an infamous toxinologist), was said to have been saved from a potentially fatal wound on the battlefield by using steppe viper venom to stop the bleeding. But at higher concentrations, and under the right conditions, melittin molecules group together into rings creating large pores in membranes, weakening a cell’s protective barrier and causing the entire cell to swell and pop like a balloon.
But she did find one small 1997 study by scientists at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana, who’d found that melittin killed Borrelia. Each compound has a different task that allows the venom to work with maximum efficiency – many parts moving together to immobilise, induce pain, or do whatever it is that the animal needs its venom for.
Technological advances allow for more efficient venom extraction as well as new ways to study smaller amounts of venom. Species are going extinct every year, and up to a third may go extinct from climate change alone.
Try sticking them onto a stiff material like card so that the message doesn’t get distorted in Hyde Parks’ hazy wind. Her mother drilled a fear of bees into her to ensure she never ended up in the same dire situation again.
The virus has to have a protective coat.” Initially envisioned as a prophylactic vaginal gel, the hope is that melittin-loaded nanoparticles could someday be injected into the bloodstream, clearing the infection. A theory is that certain bacterial species go down swinging, releasing nasty compounds that cause fever, rash and other symptoms.
Exposing cell cultures to purified melittin, they reported that the compound completely inhibited Borrelia growth. Her lab is testing different bee venoms on all forms of the bacteria, and so far, the melittin venom seems effective.
The preliminary tests for pharmaceuticals can now start with nothing more than a genetic sequence. Here are some inspiration and examples for you to download… have a scroll left and right of our gallery of the posters we have made up.
So when the bees descended, Ellie was sure that this was the end, a few months earlier than expected. When they looked more closely, they saw that shortly after melittin was added, the bacteria were effectively paralysed, unable to move as their outer membranes were under attack.
None of them realised she was infected with Borrelia until more than a year after she contracted the disease – and by then, it was far too late. Lyme bacteria are exceptionally good at adapting, with some evidence that they may be capable of dodging both the immune system and the arsenal of antibiotics currently available. Borrelia are able to live all over the body, including the brain, leading to neurological symptoms. And even with antibiotic treatment, 10–20 per cent of patients don’t get better right away.
There are testimonies of symptoms persisting – sometimes even resurfacing decades after the initial infection – though the exact cause of such post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome is a topic of debate among Lyme scientists.



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