Camilla Lisanti an 8 year old girl suggested using antibiotics to cure cancer, after she was asked by her dad how she would cure cancer.
Her parents, a husband-wife cancer research team were sceptical at first but tested out her theory in their Manchester University lab. And to their surprise, several cheap and widely-used antibiotics killed the most dangerous cancer cells.
The antibiotics fought seven of the most common cancers – including breast, prostate, lung and hard-to-treat brain tumours.
One antibiotic, doxycycline, is widely used to treat acne and is thought to be particularly promising.
Camilla’s parents showed that cancer stem cells – the deadly ‘mother cells’ that give birth to tumours, keep them alive and ease their spread around the body – have particularly high numbers of mitochondria.
They also showed that four common antibiotics killed these stem cells in samples taken from breast, prostate, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, skin and brain cancers. Importantly, healthy cells were not harmed.
The experiments on cells in a dish suggest that antibiotics could be used to stop cancer in its tracks and prevent it from spreading through the body – the main way it kills.
Professor Lisanti says that antibiotics could prove to be an inexpensive and safe one-size-fits-all treatment for cancer.