Research identifies Aussie bee potential - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

USC News

Research identifies Aussie bee potential

12 Oct 2015

A sticky substance produced by native Australian bees has been identified as having a unique chemical profile that could hold the key to a medical breakthrough in how wounds are treated, according to new research at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

In a world research first, USC Biomedical Science PhD student Karina Hamilton has studied the cerumen produced by stingless Australian bees to explore possible medical properties.

“There’s been significant research done in this field with European honey bees and the health benefits there are well known, but there had never been any research carried out with Australian bees,” said Ms Hamilton of Hervey Bay.

The PhD student found that the cerumen from Australian stingless bees possessed up to 180 different chemical compounds, and was chemically different to the resin, or propolis, produced by the European honey bee.

“It was an extremely onerous task to extract the raw material and isolate the four components that possessed wound-healing, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics,” she said.

“To be able to confirm that Australian stingless bees do create cerumen with these properties was very exciting and the cell-based model research was very promising.”

Ms Hamilton also spent 10 months of her PhD working in labs at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom to investigate specific in vitro assays (investigative procedures).

Senior USC lecturer in Biochemical Pharmacology Dr Fraser Russell supervised Karina and said the overseas research time was a fantastic opportunity.

“To have the equipment and expertise to support the very specific work she was carrying out was vital for this research,” he said.

Dr Russell and Ms Hamilton are now looking for available grants to support further research.

“The next step for this project would be to look at human trials to involve the application of either the extract or the chemical constituents on superficial wounds to see if that might hasten wound healing in patients,” Dr Russell said.

Ms Hamilton’s research was made possible by a $75,830 grant over three years from the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council and through support from USC’s Inflammation and Healing Research Cluster.

— Megan Woodward

Biomedical Science PhD student Karina Hamilton.

Related programs

Related articles

Healthy ageing research has global potential
17 Mar

USC’s increased research focus on healthy ageing could help the Sunshine Coast region become a key test environment for strategies that improve the lives of elderly people around the world.

Professor Jeanine Young, left, and PhD student Rebecca Shipstone
Disadvantage and adversity behind high sudden infant death rate
17 Feb

Queensland’s first large-scale study of all sudden infant deaths to date has identified key factors contributing to the state’s persistently high annual death rate of babies.

Hot topics: USC list of summer holiday experts
17 Dec 2020

From new microbiological considerations at the family barbecue, to the impact of border closures on the traditional summer road trip, USC Australia has research experts available to comment to the media over the summer 2020/2021 period.

Contact the USC media team

Name Position Email Phone
Terry Walsh Manager, Media and Messaging +61 7 5430 1160
Janelle Kirkland Media Relations Coordinator +61 7 5459 4553
Clare McKay Media Relations Officer (Regional) +61 7 5456 5669

Search results for

Recent news