Can skin bacteria bring hope for cancer patients?

Bacteria Strain With Cancer-Fighting Abilities Found in Skin Microbiota

Can the cure for cancer already be on your body? Think that sounds preposterous? What if we told that this cancer-fighting agent was actually a strain of bacteria? Well, we’re telling you research has found some promising news about all of these claims.

Sure, there is no cure for cancer but human skin cells contain a bacteria that can help stop cancer sells from dividing. Let’s take a look at this strain and what it might mean in the ongoing search for a cure for cancer.

Bacteria Can Fight Cancer?

There was a study recently published in Science Advances, a hub where scientific breakthroughs are posted by scientists. In this study, the commensal strain of bacteria, Staphylococcus epidermis found on human skin was researched by a panel of scientists.

One of the scientists that authored this piece was Dr. Richard Gallo of the Department of Dermatology at the University of California. As Dr. Gallo shared with The Guardian, “The presence of this strain may provide natural protection, or it might be used therapeutically to inhibit the growth of various forms of cancer.” Let’s take a deeper look as to how these scientists came to such a potentially game-changing conclusion.

Research on Bacteria and Cure for Cancer

Dr. Gallo and fellow scientists weren’t necessarily looking for a cure for cancer. In fact, they weren’t examining cancer at all. The original reason for this study was to examine skin bacteria and its antimicrobial properties.

During this research, the professionals discovered a strain of Staphylococcus epidermis that produced a molecule known as 6-N-hydroxyaminopurine (6-HAP). 6-HAP has the ability to inhibit the growth of an enzyme known as DA polymearse.

DNA polymearse helps copy the DNA of a cell, facilitating division and growth. While we want that process to happen for healthy cells, we don’t want the same for cancer cells.

As Dr. Gallo theorized to Science News, the scientists believe that 6-HAP’s molecular structure has a lot to do for this bacteria strain’s cancer-fighting abilities. The molecule resembles adenine.


This is a nucleobase that is a key component of DNA structure. Dr. Gallo summed up these findings with, “Because of that structure, we wondered if it interfered with DNA synthesis.”

6-HAP and Cancer

As the scientists dug themselves deeper down the rabbit hole, they found even more interesting facts about 6-HAP. They discovered 6-HAP was able to inhibit the growth of many tumor cells. Using a Petri dish, the scientists tested melanoma and lymphoma cells with 6-HAP. Results prove that this molecule may have strong cancer-fighting properties.

Taking this logic, scientists added the strain of Staphylococcus epidermis that produced 6-HAP to the skin of mice. The mice were then put under UV light. Results found that mice exposed to Staphylococcus epidermis produced fewer skin tumors. They compared this to mice exposed to Staphylococcus epidermis that didn’t have 6-HAP producing microbes. Those mice amassed bigger tumors.

No Cure for Cancer Doesn’t Mean No Hope

While this research is promising, we are nowhere out of the park when it comes to find the cure for cancer. However, this is a promising start. As one of the scientists, Dr. Lindsay Kalan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison stated in the Science News article, “It is important to understand how the microbiome interacts with its human host before we can begin to manipulate it for disease treatment.”

That means as microbiome research continues to grow, we might one day have an answer to the cure for cancer. The weird thing is that solution might just be a strain of bacteria. But hey, with bacteria like phage being used as a therapeutic agent, anything is possible. The world of medicine is always evolving and we will always be here to keep an eye on it and to break it all down for you!

A study with mice found a promising potential cure for cancer. Some were injected with 6-HAP while others weren’t. The results found that 60% of the mice injected with 6-HAP had smaller tumors than those who weren’t injected with anything.

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