The soil-dwelling bacterium called Streptomyces bottopensis produces molecules which has properties that manage melanoma. These molecules, known as mensacarcin, targets a melanoma cell's mitochondria, which create energy for the cell itself. The mitochondrion of cancer cells is different from normal cells, which is why experts have a difficult time creating solutions for diseases such as melanoma. In this case, mensacarcin has anti-cancer properties, especially in melanoma, and opens up doors towards a cancer-free future. (Related: Gardening activities reduce lung cancer risk by 50%.)
In order to determine the exact functions of mensacarcin, the researchers synthesized a fluorescent probe. The probe was localized to the mitochondria of the melanomatic cell, and showed that mensacarcin disturbed the energy production and mitochondrial function rapidly. The following experiments showed that mensacarcin alters the mitochondrial pathways, resulting in their dysfunction. Dysfunction, in turn, leads to a programmed cell death. To sum it up, mensacarcin causes genetic instability from within the melanomatic cell, and leads to early apoptosis (cell death).
Melanoma is the most common and most dangerous form of skin cancer. Experts describe it as a mole-like mark on the skin – but abnormally shaped. It happens when DNA gets damaged from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, usually from prolonged stays under the sun and frequent sessions at the tanning salon. UV radiation causes mutations and genetic defects in skin cells, and causes it to multiply abnormally fast and form malignant tumors.
To determine if a person has melanoma without the use of medical instruments or laboratory testing, the ABCDEs of melanoma can be used. If detected early, melanoma can almost always be treated and cured.
This skin disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., and kills about 9,000 people annually. Men are more likely to develop melanoma as compared to women, and the rates of death are higher among those with light-colored skin.
The study entitled The natural product mensacarcin induces mitochondrial toxicity and apoptosis in melanoma cells was authored by postdoctoral scholar Birte Plitzko, graduate student Elizabeth N. Kaweesa, College of Science scholar Terence Bradshaw, and lead author and assistant professor of chemistry Sandra Loesgen from Oregon State University. The study was published in the October 2017 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
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