Common algae can lead to powerful antibiotics and fight cancer

Common algae may result in anticancer drugs and antibiotics capable of fighting resistant infections, according to a study done in Portugal and published today in the scientific journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

Unpublished and promising, as explained the main author of the study, Maria de Fátima Carvalho, the work also allowed to discover two compounds produced by bacteria that are not known and may even be new molecules.

The research focused on a species of common seaweed on the Portuguese coast, Laminaria ochroleuca (large brown seaweed), and a specific bacterium, actinobacteria. “We focused on the community of bacteria linked to these algae, the actinobacteria, which are closely linked to the production of compounds known for antibiotics,” said Fátima Carvalho, from the Interdisciplinary Center for Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR), which operates in Matosinhos.

She said the goal was to understand how those bacteria could be linked to this common brown seaweed on the Portuguese coast and then it’s potential. A job that had never been done.

And the results, he said, were in fact identified compounds produced by actinobacteria with these qualities, with antimicrobial and anticancer potential.

Basically, the compounds that bacteria produce to defend themselves in the environment they live in can help fight infections in humans. Scientific work led to the realization that they were also capable of inhibiting cancerous cell lines, explained Maria de Fátima Carvalho.

The study “leads us to believe that other species of algae may be a valuable source” for drugs in the future, he said.

I’m not saying we got a compound, we got indications that there will be compounds that can be a solution to problems like resistant infections, like hospital infections, or some types of cancer.

The study will continue because the researchers have obtained two extracts of bacteria that are not classified and that will have to be studied in depth.

And for now, in the words of the researcher, algae is a raw material that “is worth exploring” for the “promising results.

The defensive compounds produced by microbes have long been a major source of antibiotics and other medications. And Laminaria is a rich source of bacteria that can potentiate new medicines.

Cited by the journal Fronteiras in Microbiology, Maria de Fátima Carvalho said that marine actinobacteria are relatively little explored and that they can be a very rich source of bioactive microbial molecules.

This study reveals that (the algae Laminaria) is a rich source of actinobacteria with promising antimicrobial and anticancer activities,” she told the magazine.

We have identified extracts from two strains of actinobacteria that do not combine with any known compound in the most comprehensive international database of natural bioactive compounds. We intend to follow up on these exciting results,” concluded Maria de Fátima Carvalho.

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