31 July 2019

Antibiotic treatment helps inhibit the development of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), Danish researchers have reported.

The antibiotics, administered to treat Staphylococcus infection, were found to also result in a reduction in cytokines, which in turn removes the ‘fuel’ that the cancer cells use to accelerate growth.

The antibiotic regime was a combination of cephalosporin and metronidazole, followed by amoxicillin and clavulanate.

The researchers, led by a team at the University of Copenhagen, say their conclusions are based on clinical studies, as well as many years of research involving molecular studies and laboratory tests. The findings of their latest study, published in the journal Blood, involved eight CTCL patients.

Team leader Professor Niels Ødum said: “When we inhibit the staphylococcal bacteria with antibiotics, we simultaneously remove the activation of the immune cells. This means that they do not produce as many cytokines, and therefore the cancer cells cannot get the extra ‘fuel’. As a result, the cancer cells are inhibited from growing as fast as they did during the bacterial attack.

“This finding is ground-breaking as it is the first time ever that we see this connection between bacteria and cancer cells in patients.”

He added: “It has previously been seen that antibiotics have had some kind of positive effect on some of these patients, but it has never been studied what it actually does to the cancer itself.

“Our finding shows that it may actually be a good idea to give patients with staphylococci on the skin this treatment because it inhibits the cancer and at the same time possibly reduces the risk of new infections.”

Source: Lindahl, L.M., Willerslev-Olsen, A., Gjerdrum, L.M.R., Nielsen, P.R., Blümel, E., Rittig, A.H., Celis, P., Herpers, B., Becker, J.C., Stausbøl-Grøn, B., Wasik, M.A., Gluud, M., Fredholm, S., Buus, T.B., Johansen, C., Nastasi, C., Peiffer, L., Kubat, L., Bzorek, M., Eriksen, J.O., Krejsgaard, T., Bonefeld, C.M., Geisler, C., Mustelin, T., Langhoff, E., Givskov, M., Woetmann, A., Kilian, M., Litman, T., Iversen, L., Ødum, N. (2019) “Antibiotics inhibit tumor and disease activity in cutaneous T cell lymphoma”, Blood, available from doi: 10.1182/blood.2018888107


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