The researchers illustrated the above study by examining the cancer-killing properties of nisin, a colorless, tasteless powder widely used as a food preservative.
“The application of nisin has advanced beyond its role as a food biopreservative,” said researcher Yvonne Kapila, professor at University of Michigan School of Dentistry in the US.
“Current findings and other published data support nisin’s potential use to treat antibiotic resistant infections, periodontal disease and cancer,” Kapila noted.
The researchers conducted the trial experiment on the rats by feeding them a “nisin milkshake” which apparently killed 70-80 percent of head and neck tumour cells after nine weeks and extended survival.
The mice were given a highly purified nisin dosage of 800 mg/kg. Nisin is typically added to food at the rate of .25 to 37.5 mg/kg. Many foods contain nisin, but nowhere near the 800 mg/kg needed to kill cancer cells.
Moreover, one or the other products in the market does contain nisin , like creams and pharmaceuticals to fight infection and mastitis, and a sanitiser in lactating cows.
Nisin also helps in fighting deadly bacteria such as antibiotic-resistant MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
“To date, nobody had found bacteria from humans or living animals that is resistant to nisin,” Kapila said.
However, it would be too early to predict the similar results upon humans the way it had responded on mice, the Kapila said.
The findings will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.