Get dirty to fight skin cancer – Dirt microbe kills melanoma cells

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In Oregon, researchers at Oregon State University found that a type of soil-dwelling bacterium produces molecules that induce death in melanoma cells, The molecule is a secondary metabolite, also known as a natural product, of Streptomyces bottropensis, and its properties are important because there are not many therapies that effectively manage melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

Researchers found that the natural product, mensacarcin, goes after melanoma cells’ mitochondria – the part of a cell that creates most of the energy needed for life. Mitochondria are also important in cell death signaling, and they have emerged as a potential target for therapy because cancer cell mitochondria are structurally and functionally different from mitochondria of non-cancerous cells.