Glycolipid biosurfactants as novel anti-cancer agents.

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The primary methods employed in cancer treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy) place a high burden of discomfort on the patient. As such new targeted methods of treatment with reduced side effects are considered the holy grail in cancer treatment research. The anti-cancer effects of biosurfactants have been investigated in several in vitro cancer cell lines with positive results. However, many of these studies were carried out with biosurfactant mixtures that had been poorly characterised and in vivo studies of biosurfactant activity are limited. Using purified and fully characterised preparations of both rhamnolipids and sophorolipids we investigated their effects on both melanoma and colorectal cancer cell lines. Cell viability and morphological analyses revealed that glycolipids have differential effects on the skin cells dependent on their chemical structure. Lactonic sophorolipids and mono-rhamnolipids were shown to have a significantly detrimental effect on melanoma cell viability compared to healthy human keratinocytes. In contrast, acidic sophorolipids were found to have a significantly detrimental effect on colorectal cancer cell lines whilst having no effect on healthy gut epithelial cells. Additionally acidic sophorolipids also had a significant effect on reducing gut bleeding from tumours in a colorectal cancer murine model. These results show that glycolipids may have potential applications as active pharmaceutical ingredients in cancer treatment, or may be incorporated into products, such as nutraceutical supplements, or skin creams, to prevent both gut and skin cancer.
Period29 Sept 2022
Event titleBiosurfactants International Conference 2022
Event typeConference
LocationHohenheim, Stuttgart, GermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational