[Mise à jour du 24/07/21]
Antibiotics, a new weapon in the fight against melanoma?
In a new study, published on July 21, 2021 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, researchers from the Catholic University of Louvain (KU Leuven), in Belgium, have demonstrated the real effectiveness of antibiotics against melanoma.
“As cancer progresses, some melanoma cells may escape treatment and stop proliferating to “hide” from the immune system. These are the cells that have the potential to form a new tumor mass at a later stage.”, Explained researcher Eleonora Leucci, who led the study, in a communicated. “To survive cancer treatment, however, these inactive cells must keep their “powerhouses” – the mitochondria – on at all times.”, She added. Because mitochondria are derived from bacteria that have evolved into cells, they are very vulnerable to a specific class of antibiotics. This is what gave researchers the idea to use these antibiotics as anti-melanoma agents.
The researchers implanted skin tumors from patients into the body of mice, which then received antibiotic treatment, either as a single treatment or in combination with conventional anti-melanoma therapies.
Results: the antibiotics quickly led to the death of many cancer cells, and could thus be useds to save precious time necessary for the establishment of immunotherapy. In the case of tumors no longer responding to conventional treatments, antibiotics prolonged the life of the mice.
However, there is no question of self-administering antibiotics if you have melanoma! Because this study has not yet been reproduced in humans. “Our study mentions only one human case where a patient with melanoma received antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection, which resensitized a melanoma resistant to standard treatment. This result is cause for optimism, but we need more research and clinical studies to examine the use of antibiotics to treat cancer patients.”, Nuanced Eleonora Leucci.
5 things to know about melanoma
While melanoma is the least common skin cancer, it is also the most serious. It must be detected at the start of its development for early management. Can you be affected if you have very few moles? Which areas of the body are most at risk for melanoma? We take stock.
Melanoma accounts for about a little over 10% of skin cancers, but its frequency has been steadily increasing for half a century.
Most melanomas don’t form on a mole
Contrary to popular belief, just because there are very few moles (nevus) that the risk of melanoma is less. Three-quarters of melanomas are formed outside of a pre-existing mole.
Sun exposure is the main risk factor for melanoma
Melanoma, also called cancer of the pigmentary system is a malignant tumor of melanocytes, the cells that make melanin. However, repeated sun exposure promotes the deregulation of these cells.
Experts agree on the fact that a very large majority of melanomas (70 to 80%) are attributable to too intense or too frequent sun exposure throughout life, especially if it occurs in childhood. The sunburn in childhood play an important role: according to conclusions of a 2014 study, only five sunburns with blisters caught during adolescence would be enough to increase the risk of melanoma.
Another risk factor: exposure to artificial UV rays of tanning booths. Numerous scientific studies have shown the link between exposure to tanning beds, even once, and the development of melanoma. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the risk of melanoma is increased by 60% for people who have had their first exposure to artificial UV rays before the age of 30.
Consequence: the people with fair skin, more vulnerable to UV rays, are among the risk profiles.
Melanoma can develop in an area not exposed to the sun
Melanoma most often occurs, as we have seen, on healthy skin, in a place where there were no moles. The neck is one of the risk areas. This skin cancer can be found on any part of the body, and can even affect an area not exposed to the sun: the scalp, soles, the surface of a nail (subungual melanoma). In humans, the trunk, particularly theback, is a risk area; in women, it is legs.
The ABCDE rule allows you to monitor your skin yourself
This easy-to-implement rule can detect a change in the Asymmetry, Edges, Color, Size or Scalability of a mole.
It does not exempt from a regular examination of the skin by a dermatologist.
Detected early, melanoma is very well treated
Melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer because of its propensity to spread to other organs (strong metastatic potential). Detected early, it heals very well, with a very high survival rate. A good reason to get tested every year!
- The treatment of a melanoma detected at an early stage is surgical: the melanoma is removed; the rapid intervention takes place on an outpatient basis, generally under local anesthesia.
- The treatment of a metastatic melanoma has made great progress in recent years. New treatment avenues are in clinical trials or already available, the most promising being targeted therapies and immunotherapy.