Researchers discover cancer metastasis inhibitor by co-culturing Antarctic fungi with microorganisms in S. Korea's eastern island

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : November 17, 2022, 18:00 Updated : November 17, 2022, 18:00

[Courtesy of Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology]

SEOUL -- Researchers discovered a novel candidate material that suppresses cancer metastasis from the soil of Ulleungdo, a South Korean island located between the Korean peninsula and Japan, and developed technology to increase its amount by co-cultivating it with microorganisms found in Antarctica. The new material candidate can help doctors treat intractable diseases such as various cancer.
Researchers led by Jang Jae-hyuk, a natural products chemist at Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), found out that native actinomyces separated from the soil of Ulleungdo produced the novel material, which was later titled "Ulleungdolin." However, the amount was insufficient to confirm its structure and function. 
By increasing the production by more than 10 times using microorganisms from Antarctica, the research team found out that Ulleungdolin could be used as an inhibitor for cancer metastasis. The amount was increased by co-culturing with Leohumicola minima, fungi separated from a composite organism called "lichen" living on King George Island, Antarctica. The material turned out to lower the mobility of breast cancer cells.  
"If we can find the endless potential of microorganisms, we should be able to respond to rare incurable diseases such as cancer," Jang said in a statement on November 17. The research team believes that certain substances produced by Leohumicola minima affected the manifestation of the actinomycetes biosynthetic gene involved in Ulleungdolin production. Additional research will be carried out to find out more about the substances. 
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