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Antibiotic May Help Fight Mesothelioma

3116208_support smallA newly-published research study suggests that an antibiotic derived from Streptomyces bacteria may help fight the hard-to-treat asbestos cancer, mesothelioma.

Although rare, malignant mesothelioma is one of the deadliest cancers in part because it is highly resistant to standard cancer therapies.

In their ongoing search for a new and better way to treat the tens of thousands of mesothelioma victims around the world, Korean researchers turned their focus to Manumycin A, an antibiotic known to have anticancer properties.

Treating Mesothelioma with an Antibiotic

Manumycin A is made from a bacterium called Streptomyces parvulus. More than two-thirds of the clinically useful antibiotics of natural origin are derived from Streptomyces.

Some previous studies have found that Manumycin A’s ability to interfere with certain cellular processes allows it to reduce oxidative stress, treat atherosclerosis, and shrink certain kinds of solid tumors in mice. Based on this research, scientists from several Korean institutions exposed two separate mesothelioma cell lines to Manu A for 48 hours.

“Manu A induced a significant increase in apoptotic indices,” reports Ka Hwi Kim,  a pharmacy specialist with the Natural Medicine Research Institute of Mokpo National University.

How Does Manumycin A Fight Mesothelioma?

As the Korean research team acknowledge, neither the molecular mechanism nor the molecular targets of Manumycin A are well understood. However, testing of the treated mesothelioma cells did reveal some important clues about how Manumycin A might help to improve mesothelioma survival.

Mesothelioma cells exposed to the antibiotic were sent into apoptosis, the process by which even healthy cells naturally die off, by suppressing a key signaling protein.

Our results demonstrated that Manu A exerted anticancer effects by inducing apoptosis via inhibition of the Sp1-related signaling pathway in human malignant pleural mesothelioma,” concludes the report. The greater the concentration of Manumycin A, the more dramatic the effect it had on the mesothelioma cells.

Manumycin A and Mesothelioma Survival

As with any investigational mesothelioma treatment protocol, Manumycin A will probably not be incorporated into clinical use for some time.

If further studies confirm its value in improving mesothelioma outcomes in animals, the next stage will be to test the drug as part of a treatment regimen in human mesothelioma patients.

Currently, standard mesothelioma treatment involves a combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. Many patients choose to be a part of a clinical trial to gain access to emerging mesothelioma treatments that may extend their survival.


Kim, KH, et al, “Manumycin A induces apoptosis in malignant pleural mesothelioma through regulation of Sp1 and activation of the mitochondria-related apoptotic pathway”, May 10, 2016, Oncology Reports, Epub ahead of print

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