Bacteria may protect against skin cancer


Bacteria may protect against skin cancer, according to the new research. A beneficial skin bacterium may provide needed protection against skin cancer, suggests a new study.


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Dr. Richard Gallo and his colleagues performed a molecular analysis of the bacteria’s metabolic products found on human skin and discovered that strains of the so-called Staphylococcus epidermidis produce a chemical.

This chemical protects against the formation and development of skin cancer. In the United States, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 1 million U.S. citizens live with skin cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caution against the risks of sun exposure and intentional tanning, as the sun’s ultraviolet rays are known to raise skin cancer risk.

In the new study, Dr. Gallo and team used cancer inducing UV rays in mice with S. epidermidis. The researchers found that S. epidermidis produces a chemical called 6-N-hydroxyaminopurine.

It is a molecule that inhibits DNA synthesis. By doing so, 6-N-hydroxyaminopurine has the potential to stop transformed tumor cells from spreading.

The researchers compared the effect of carcinogenic UV rays in two groups of mice, comprising rodents in which S. epidermidis produced 6-HAP, or rodents in which the bacterium did not produce the beneficial compound.

Dr. Gallo and his team administered 6-N-hydroxyaminopurine shots to one group of mice once every 48 hours for 2 weeks. Additionally, they transplanted melanoma cells in these rodents.

They have identified a strain of S. epidermidis, common on healthy human skin that exerts a selective ability to stop the growth of some cancers. This unique strain of skin bacteria produces a chemical that kills several types of cancer cells.