Antibiotics may halt the progress of mouth cancer
Scientists in Trinity College are investigating if antibiotic therapy can be used to kill off bacteria in pre-cancerous growths in the mouth.
The team at the School of Dental Science studied one of these pre-cancers called oral leukoplakia, literally meaning "white-patch".
When studying this pre-cancer, the researchers found that certain bacteria were more abundant on the white patches compared to healthy sites in the same patient.
Although smoking is a risk factor for oral leukoplakia, we still don't understand what turns oral leukoplakia into cancer and which ones are likely to become malignant.
Research is now under way to follow these patients and determine if the type of bacteria present can determine whether white patches become cancerous.
They are also looking at whether local antibiotic therapy could be useful to prevent malignant transformation.
The same bacteria has been found in colon cancer and the research may also prove useful for this.