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New drug aims to sting killer bee disease

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - 02:26

Scientists at Lublin's Maria Curie-Sklodowska University develop a new type of drug aimed at fighting nosemosis, a disease affecting bees world-wide. Elly Park reports.

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It's a global phenomenon that worries beekeepers and environmentalists - honey bee colonies dying at an alarming rate. Here in Poland, bee population has halved in the past 15 years. A disease called nosemosis is one cause. Doctor Aneta Ptaszynska of Maria-Curie Sklodowska University explains. (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) DEPARTMENT OF BOTANY AND MYCOLOGY OF MARIA-CURIE SKLODOWSKA UNIVERSITY IN LUBLIN (UMCS), PHD ANETA PTASZYNSKA, SAYING: "Nosemosis is a very serious disease which shortens the bees' lifespan. Infected worker bees live for a very short time in the summer, about 8 to 12 days, while they normally live 36 days. So the productivity of the whole bee family decreases and bees also have problems with passing the winter." Nosema disease, or nosemosis is a honey bee gut disease caused by microscopic fungi that spread through food or water. When consumed it attacks the insects' intestines, causing them to constantly search for food and eventually die in the process. Some studies blame pesticides for having a negative influence on the bees' immune system, which then cannot fight off the fungi. But Ptaszynska says a new drug developed by her team strengthens the immune system to help beat the disease. (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) DEPARTMENT OF BOTANY AND MYCOLOGY OF MARIA-CURIE SKLODOWSKA UNIVERSITY IN LUBLIN (UMCS), PHD ANETA PTASZYNSKA, SAYING: "On one hand they decrease the level of Nosemosis, we can clearly observe a decrease in the number of spores in the intestines of bees given the extracts. On the other hand, they increase the level of enzymes responsible for the immunological reaction of the insects, enzymes which recognize pathogens, foreign bodies. We assume that in this way the extracts help the bees overcome this disease." Ptaszynska says the floral extract is safe for human consumption, and is effective in more than 90 percent of cases. Bees are vital for the world's food supply, pollinating the vegetables and fruits we eat and those eaten by the animals we then consume. The drug is undergoing patenting procedures, and the team hopes that it creates enough buzz to find the right partners for production and distribution soon.

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New drug aims to sting killer bee disease

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - 02:26