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Anticancer bacteria discovered in Mt. Mayon’s fertile soil

By Carlos Manuel Eusoya

PHOTO: Legazpi City Facebook Page

The potential remedy for colorectal cancer may lie in one of the Philippines' natural wonders.




A biological discovery

A research team from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) has recently discovered and identified 30 bacterial species from the rich and fertile soil of the Mayon Volcano. Thirteen of these bacterial species managed to ward off organisms that were considered pathogenic to animals and humans. The said bacteria also showed antibiotic activities.

Kristel Mae P. Oliveros, the project leader and an assistant professor in UPLB Microbiology Division, said that they have “high hopes of getting new and novel species” due to the less-explored nature of volcanic environments. The researchers also said that chemical compounds from the fertile soil of the volcano may have given the bacterial species its medical, pharmaceutical, and cosmeceutical features.


New species vs. resistant pathogens

The researchers tested the newly-identified species (also called isolates) against Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Aspergillus niger, and an unspecified Fusarium fungus. The mentioned organisms are pathogens that were included in the World Health’s Organization’s list of pathogens with antibiotic resistance. This list includes the pathogens that pose high health threats to humanity because of their adaptability to current antibiotics.

The particular species that stood out the most was the “Streptomyces mayonensis A1-08”; its scientific name was derived from Mt. Mayon. This is because it opposes the effects of all pathogens mentioned and even MRSA. MRSA, also known as Staphylococcus aureus, is resistant against powerful antibiotics such as methicillin.


A remedy for cancer?

Streptomyces mayonensis A1-08 was also tested for its anti-colorectal cancer abilities. It showed potential for combating cancer; however, the results indicated that extracts from this bacteria have less favorable potency than doxorubicin, a drug used in chemotherapy. This means that even though Streptomyces mayonensis may have anticancer effects, it is less than the effect of chemical drugs used in the medical sector today.

Nonetheless, the research team believes that the raw compounds from Streptomyces mayonensis can still be purified to create a better anticancer drug. “Way forward, further studies should be made for us to establish that this novel species can likewise produce novel bioactive compounds,” Oliveros mentioned.




What’s next for these bacterial species?

Asst. Prof. Oliveros said that further rigorous research must be done in order to confirm the effectiveness of the compound as a chemotherapy drug.
Oliveros also hopes to extend their discovery toward industrial applications, and “to showcase the known and great potential of the Philippines as a promising land that harbors natural products for drug discovery”.


Report source: DOST