HealthNews

Beneficial skin bacteria protect against skin cancer

Discoveries

Date: March 1, 2018

Source: University of California - San Diego

Science continues to peel away layers of the skin microbiome to reveal its protective properties. In a study published in Science Advances on February 28, University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers report a potential new role for some bacteria on the skin: protecting 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," said Richard Gallo, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. "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."  The team discovered the S. epidermidis strain produces the chemical compound 6-N-hydroxyaminopurine (6-HAP).

This is S. epidermidis growing on an agar plate. A strain of S. epidermidis was shown to produce a molecule that kills cancer cells and inhibits the development of skin tumors on mice. UC San Diego Health

Impact Of Discovery

"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," said Richard Gallo, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. "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."

Expected Time On Market

Further studies are needed to understand how 6-HAP is produced, if it can be used for prevention of cancer or if loss of 6-HAP increases cancer risk