One of the more interesting breakthroughs in recent cancer research comes from what some are dubbing "magic mold."

A small study by a University of Michigan researcher found that nisin — a naturally occurring food preservative that grows on dairy products — kills cancer cells and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in mice. The study found that feeding rats a "nisin milkshake" killed 70-80 percent of neck tumor cells after nine weeks and extended survival rates for the mice.

Nisin is a colorless tasteless powder that is added to foods at the rate of .25 to 37.5 mg/kg. For the study, the mice were giving a much stronger dose of 800 mg/kg.

Researchers said that currently many foods contain nisin, but nowhere near the amount needed to kill cancer cells.

The other exciting news about nisin is that it appears to fight deadly bacteria including antibiotic resistant MRSA.

"To date, nobody had found bacteria from humans or living animals that is resistant to nisin," said lead researcher Dr. Yvonne Kapila, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, in a news release.

The results are promising but the study was small and only done on mice, so it's too early to tell if the benefits will translate to people.

"The application of nisin has advanced beyond its role as a food biopreservative," Kapila said. "Current findings and other published data support nisin's potential use to treat antibiotic resistant infections, periodontal disease and cancer."

Mary Jo DiLonardo covers a wide range of topics focused on nature, health, science and anything that helps make the world a better place.

Food preservative kills cancer cells
Dairy-based food preservative nisin also takes on antibiotic-resistant bacteria.