A group of Norwegian and Russian scientists has been meticulously sifting through hundreds of substances found in the Trondheim Fjord, looking for antibiotic and other bioactive substances. The researchers report that they’ve discovered 11 species of bacteria that generate chemicals with a potential to kill cancer cells and three that function as antibiotics.
From SINTEF Group, the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia:
Many of the bacteria that have been brought up from the Trondheim Fjord have antibiotic functions, but most of these are already known, and are therefore of no interest. New compounds that can be patented are most interesting.
“Substances with a new chemical structure and, we hope, with a different mechanism of action than we already know of, could be extremely valuable, for example in fighting cancer.
This is why we need more candidate structures. Not all of them can be developed into new medicines, but if we are successful with one or two of them, we will be quite happy,” says NTNU professor Sergey Zotchev.
Recent focus on a few selected bacteria has led to these exciting findings. In Bergen and Moscow, the 11 anti-cancer substances have been tested against leukemias and stomach, colon and prostate cancers.
“We have found that cancerous cells have been killed, while normal cells survive, and that individual extracts act on different types of cancer cells,” says senior scientist Håvard Sletta of SINTEF. “However, we still have not identified the active substances in the compounds produced by the bacteria”.
Meticulous laboratory experiments have enable the scientists to identify the chemical structure of one of the three substances that can be used as antibiotics, and which they now know act against multiresistant bacteria.
Towards the end of March, this substance was due to be tested on animals in Moscow. If the results turn out to be positive, the way will be clear for a patent application.
Press release: Medicines from the Sea