For most elementary school students, finding the cure for cancer probably isn't normal dinner table conversation. But for one British 8-year-old, the topic came up— and led to successful lab results, The Independent reported.
Camilla Lisanti's parents are both cancer researchers at Manchester University. Over dinner, her father, Michael, asked her how she would cure the disease, and she suggested using antibiotics, "like when I have a sore throat."
Michael and his wife, Federica Sotgia, tested her theory at the lab and were surprised to find that several cheap and widely used antibiotics destroyed cancerous cells in samples from breast, prostate, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, skin, and brain tumors. Some of the antibiotics worked by preventing cancer cells from making energy-providing mitochondria— which cancer stem cells are prolific in.
Most importantly, these common antibiotics tested did not harm healthy cells. Michael believes they could prove to be an effective and inexpensive treatment.
"I thought it was very naïve to think you could cure cancer with antibiotics, but at the end of the day Camilla was right," he told the Daily Mail. "She usually is right about things."
The research is promising but is limited to lab results and needs to be tested on people.
In a comment to The Independent, Dr. Alan Worsley, Cancer Research UK's senior scientist said that some antibiotics have been known to have anti-cancer effects since the 1960s and are a well-established part of cancer treatment, along with chemotherapies.
"There's no indication from this work that these particular antibiotics would kill cancer cells in patients, or what sort of side effects there might be," he told The Independent.