Veneno de formigas possui potencial farmacológico


A natureza contém uma grande diversidade de moléculas bioativas e é, portanto, uma fonte de inspiração para os químicos, bioquímicos e a indústria farmacêutica à procura de moléculas com potencial benefício terapêutico ou atividade inseticida. Dentre os produtos naturais, os venenos são uma fonte promissora para a descoberta de moléculas originais, uma vez que oferecem um formidável conjunto de propriedades biológicas.

Diversas atividades biológicas já foram comprovadas nos venenos de abelhas, vespas e formigas – os chamados himenópteros -, podendo apresentar propriedades antibacterianas, anticonvulsivantes, atividade anti-inflamatória, anticarcinogênica, entre outras. “Ainda que o veneno de himenópteros sociais venha sendo estudado desde o final do século XIX, o conhecimento da composição da peçonha de muitas espécies é ainda muito limitado”, afirma Claudia Andrea Lima Cardos, professora da Universidade Estadual de Mato Grosso do Sul (UEMS) e coordenadora da pesquisa de doutorado “Composição química e atividades biológicas do veneno de Ectatomma brunneum SMITH (1858) (Formicidae: Ectatominae)”. Quem desenvolve a pesquisa é a doutoranda em Recursos Naturais, Rafaella Caroline Bernardi.

A falta de conhecimento acerca destes compostos inviabiliza o conhecimento a respeito dos mecanismos de ação, alergenicidade e propriedades farmacológicas. “Esta falta de dados ocorre principalmente devido à quantidade limitada de veneno que pode ser obtido a partir de uma única formiga e a natureza laboriosa de dissecções e extração do veneno”, comenta Cardoso.

O objetivo da tese é caracterizar a composição e explorar o potencial biológico do veneno da formigaEctatomma brunneum Smith 1858, uma espécie de ampla ocorrência, endêmica da região Neotropical.

“Os resultados parciais do projeto evidenciam a presença de proteínas, peptídeos, aminoácidos livres e compostos de baixa massa molecular no veneno, com cinco destas proteínas apresentando potencial inibitório quanto ao crescimento de duas cepas de bactérias testadas, sendo realizados neste conjunto de moléculas estudos mais aprofundados de caracterização e identificação”, explica Cardoso. Também estão em andamento ensaios de potencial de toxicidade e mutagenicidade do veneno da espécie, além de outras atividades biológicas.

Foi possível a realização de um estudo complexo de caracterização de compostos do veneno em geral e de compostos com atividade biológica. Para isso, os pesquisadores estabeleceram parceria com o grupo de pesquisa do Professor Dr. José Eduardo Serrão, da Universidade Federal de Viçosa, que enriqueceu os dados obtidos para o projeto, somando o uso de técnicas mais apuradas para a caracterização dos compostos do veneno.

“O projeto trata-se do primeiro passo, mas não menos importante ou menos complexo, para o aprofundamento em estudos mais direcionados a uma possível molécula com potencial farmacológico, trabalho que pode levar uma década ou mais para ser realizado”, finaliza a pesquisadora.

Grupo de pesquisa

O grupo de pesquisa “Análise de amostras de origem vegetal e animal, medicamentos e contaminantes” estuda o tema como parte das ações do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Recursos Naturais da Universidade Estadual de Mato Grosso do Sul (UEMS). “No País temos poucos grupos trabalhando com a composição química de vespas e insetos em geral”, afirma a professora que é coordenadora do grupo.

Vários projetos são desenvolvidos pelo grupo. Um exemplo é a “Avaliação da composição química e da atividade antimicrobiana em vespas (Hymenoptera: Polistinae)”, que tem como objetivo determinar a composição química do veneno de vespas e analisar sua atividade antimicrobiana e também avaliar a composição do ninho e da cutícula destes insetos durante seu desenvolvimento.

“Com esta pesquisa científica pretendemos contribuir para o estudo químico e biológico de vespas avaliando principalmente aspectos ambientais e de desenvolvimento do indivíduo”, explica Cardoso.

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