In this study, researchers from China, Saudi Arabia and South Africa screened microbial species that live in harsh environments for secondary metabolites with anti-cancer activities. Their findings were published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Microbes that thrive in the brine pools of the Red Sea and in brine pool-seawater interfaces are exposed to high temperature, high salinity, low oxygen levels and high concentrations of heavy metals.
To survive these harsh conditions, these microbes produce a variety of secondary metabolites, some of which may have powerful anti-cancer properties.
To identify potential anti-cancer agents, the researchers obtained 60 ethyl-acetate extracts from newly isolated microbial strains from the Red Sea.
They then tested each extract against several human cancer cell lines for potential cytotoxic and apoptotic activities.
The researchers reported that isolates from the Erba brine-pool accounted for 50 percent of the active bacterial extracts. These extracts could inhibit cancer cell growth by 30 percent or higher.
Among the extracts they screened, seven showed selectivity toward triple negative BT20 breast cancer cells.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that the active compounds produced by microbes in the Red Sea brine pool can potentially serve as novel anti-cancer agents for the treatment of advanced cancers.
Esau L, Zhang G, Sagar S, Stingl U, Bajic VB, Kaur M. MINING THE DEEP RED-SEA BRINE POOL MICROBIAL COMMUNITY FOR ANTICANCER THERAPEUTICS. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 20 June 2019;19(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12906-019-2554-0