Bacteria on your skin are fighting off your cancer

Modesto Morganelli
Marzo 2, 2018

Dr. Gallo explained that having higher number of these bacteria on the skin thus may protect a person from skin cancer due to these same properties.

While it is not clear whether the absence of this strain could increase the risk of skin cancer in individuals, the team say that it is possible the findings might one day lead to preventive treatments for patients.

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. "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". While it was not the only strain to do so, the chemical these microbes produced was unusual, boasting a structure similar to one of the key components of DNA, called adenine. "In fact, we previously reported that some bacteria on our skin produce antimicrobial peptides that defend against pathogenic bacteria such as, Staph aureus", said Gallo.

6-HAP is a molecule that impairs the creation of DNA, known as DNA synthesis, and prevents the spread of transformed tumor cells as well as the potential to suppress development of UV-induced skin tumors. Of course, further research will be needed to analyze exactly how S. epidermidis makes 6-HAP, and also whether there is a toxic level of the stuff.

His team, which recently published its findings in the journal Science Advances, tested the hypothesis on animals, administering the 6-HAP substance for two weeks to a group of mice affected by a type of skin cancer. However, when melanoma cells were introduced to mice, animals which had received 6-HAP intravenously ended up with tumours that were more than 60% smaller than those that had not received the substance.

"We found a staphylococcus strain common in healthy human skin that has a selective ability to inhibit the growth of some cancers. We have evolved to need these microbes and desperately need to understand all the roles they play in human biology and start to think more about what it is to be a human being", he said.

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