Salinomycin is an antibiotic that has recently been found to activate cell death in a variety of human cancer cells. It has shown promise in fighting cancer that has a high incidence of drug resistance. What proves to be quite promising about salinomycin is that it has been found to destroy cancer cells of different origins while not harming normal cells. It also appears to be effective against a variety of cancers including breast, prostate, ovarian, as well as several others. The following information provides a brief history of salinomycin, how it is made, its current use, and possible future use.
Researchers in Japan isolated salinomycin in the early seventies. It was registered in 1978. It had been discovered that salinomycin demonstrated antimicrobial activity. The salinomycin was produced through tank fermentation and then the culture broth was filtrated. It was then purified, dried, and eventually crystallized. Through X-ray analysis the research discovered that salinomycin was related to the monocarboxylic polyether family of antibiotics. Salinomycin was then tested on chickens with coccidiosis, which is an intestinal disease affecting both humans and animals. The antibacterial drug was effective and has been used since in a variety of livestock as an anticoccidial drug. Studies done in 2009 and 2011 showed that the use of salinomycin could induce cell death of human cancer cells. It has been shown to kill breast cancer stem cells in mice.
Salinomycin is promising primarily because it has been shown to kill the cancer stem cells while at the same time enabling other drugs to more efficiently kill the regular cancer cells. This dual effect of killing both cancer and cancer stem cells is necessary to completely eradicate the cancer and prevent relapses. Since salinomycin can be dangerous, even fatal in humans, much more research and testing needs to be completed before this drug is a regular part of cancer therapy in humans. The potential at this time is very encouraging, however. It's possible that salinomycin could be the miracle drug of the future in the fight against cancer. It could be coupled with the current drug therapies that fight specific types of cancer, with one drug targeting the regular cancer cells and salinomycin targeting the stem cells. If the specific dosage and ways to administer the drug can be found at safe yet effective levels, the potential benefits of salinomycin could prove to be a huge breakthrough in the war on cancer.