Study Finds Antibiotics May Boost Melanoma Growth by Depleting Gut Microbiome

October 5, 2022 10:01:31

New research has found that antibiotics may speed up melanoma growth in bones by weakening the body’s immune response and obstructing microbiome in the gut. Melanoma is an aggressive cancer of the skin that often spreads to a person’s bones. Once this cancer metastasizes, a patient’s five-year rate of survival drops to 30%.

Gut microbiome is comprised of trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live within an individual’s intestines. It is estimated that anywhere between 200 to 1,000 bacteria species exist in the gut at any given time.

Studies have shown that gut microbiome composition can impact the health of an individual’s body during some illnesses, including inflammatory bowel disorders and autoimmune conditions. This is in addition to showing that the microbiome is involved in bone-tissue health, which includes the regulation of skeletal development and bone mineral density.

Prior studies have also linked imbalances and disruption of microbiome to the progression of cancer. However, the role gut bacteria plays in bone tumor growth wasn’t known until now.

For their study, the researchers from Emory University, led by Dr. Subhashis Pal, used mice models to explore how the microbiome influences melanoma growth in bones and the body’s immune response. The researchers modeled melanoma’s spread into the bones by introducing human melanoma cells into mice’s tibia bones  or hearts. They then depleted the animals’ microbiome using a range of antibiotics, which included metronidazole, vacomycin and ampicillin.

The researchers discovered that the antibiotics eliminated more than 99% of the gut bacteria, noting that the growth of tumors was higher in mice that received the treatment in comparison to those that didn’t receive the antibiotic treatment.

The researchers also looked into the roles that the T helper 1 and natural killer cells played, given that they usually act against melanoma. They discovered that bone tumor presence increased the number of these immune cells in the bone marrow, noting, however, that gut bacteria depletion using antibiotics hindered this increase.

In addition, the researchers found that the antibiotics reduced immune cell migration to the tumors from the intestines. This suggests that changes to gut microbiome caused by antibiotics may alter immune response to bone cancer cells.

In their report, the researchers note that the use of antibiotics may induce negative effects in patients with melanoma who have bone tumors. The study’s findings were presented during this year’s American Society for Bone and Mineral Research conference; they were also reported in the “Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Metastatic bone cancers are a growing concern around the world, and this has drawn the attention of a number of biotechnology companies, including QSAM Biosciences Inc. (OTCQB: QSAM). These entities are focusing on delivering next-generation treatments to more effectively treat these rapidly spreading cancers.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to QSAM Biosciences Inc. (OTCQB: QSAM) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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