Science

Common skin bacteria found to produce skin-cancer killing molecule

Common skin bacteria found to ...
This bacteria has been found to produce a compound that can protect against skin cancer
This bacteria has been found to produce a compound that can protect against skin cancer
View 1 Image
This bacteria has been found to produce a compound that can protect against skin cancer
1/1
This bacteria has been found to produce a compound that can protect against skin cancer

A large population of microorganisms live on our skin. Known as the skin microbiome, many of these organisms serve a vital protective function preventing psoriasis, acne and other diseases. A team at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine has now uncovered a strain of bacteria found on human skin that can protect against cancer.

"We have identified a strain of Staphylococcus epidermidis, common on healthy human skin, that exerts a selective ability to inhibit the growth of some cancers," says Richard Gallo, one of the authors on the study.

The research found that this particular strain of bacteria can generate a molecule known as 6-N-hydroxyaminopurine (6-HAP). This compound was subsequently found to have the ability to halt the spread of cancer cells, in particular UV-induced skin tumors.

"This unique strain of skin bacteria produces a chemical that kills several types of cancer cells but does not appear to be toxic to normal cells," says Gallo.

The team studied mice with the bacteria strain applied onto their skin and found that when exposed to UV rays they developed significantly less skin tumors than mice applied with a bacteria strain that did not express 6-HAP. Even more interestingly the study found that intravenous injections of 6-HAP into mice transplanted with melanoma cells resulted in the tumors reducing in size by over 50 percent.

The next phase of the research is to focus on whether 6-HAP can be used in humans for the prevention of cancer, but right now this study offers a compelling insight into yet another important symbiotic relationship between microbes and our own biology.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

Source: University of California San Diego School of Medicine

3 comments
highlandboy
So if this holds true for humans, washing your hands with antibacterial soap may increase the likelihood of getting skin cancers due to reduction in bacteria. So if the bacteria don’t kill you the cancer may.
Nik
Maybe, its the UV in sunlight, that kills the skin bacteria, and therefore allows the cancer cells to proliferate, rather than the sunlight itself that causes the cancer to initiate? Also, Psoriasis is not a disease! It is the body's reaction to stress, which can be one major incident, or a combination of accumulated events. The cure is simple, de-stress! This can be achieved by self hypnosis, or in extreme cases by a professional hypnotist. An example was a rear gunner, in a Lancaster Bomber during WW2, whose plane was attacked by a German fighter. The fighter came so close that the gunner could see the pilots eyes. He freaked, with fright! When the aircraft eventually landed, many hours later, he was covered in psoriasis. After thirty years of potions and lotions, nothing had changed. Finally hypnotism was tried, and was effective. I've had psoriasis twice in my life, and I know precisely what, when, and where it was caused, to the second. Both were events of the extreme 'flight or fight,' stress kind. One was flight, the other was fight. I cured both myself, by deliberate relaxation, and de-stressing, the first time took 2-3 months, the second 2-3 weeks. I've kept the state of mind from de-stressing, and have had no re-occurrence in 40 years.
Nik
PS. I has occurred to me that if this bacteria can be cultured, and added to sun-block creams, it would give them a double protection against skin cancer. It could also be added to any other skin cream, to increase resistance to skin cancer. The question then arises, could it also be used for internal treatment to prevent, or assist in the treatment of cancers.