Research: salmonella bacteria to kill cancer
Neil Forbes of the University of Massachusetts Amherst
has received a 4-year grant of over US$1 mln from the National Institutes of
Health to research killing cancer tumours with Salmonella
According to News-Medical, Forbes turns the bacteria into tiny terminator
robots that use their own flagella to venture deep into tumours where
conventional chemotherapy can apparently not reach. Once in place, the bacteria
manufacture drugs that trigger cancer cells to kill themselves.
"When we get the Salmonella bacteria into the part of the tumour where we
want them to be, we've programmed them to go ape," says Forbes. "We have the
bacteria release a drug to trigger a receptor in cancer cells called the "death
receptor," which induces cancer cells to kill themselves. We've already done
this in the lab. We've done this successfully in cancerous mice, and it
dramatically increases their survival rate."
Bacteria naturally seek out dead tissue for food by using sensors that home
in on chemicals such as ribose, given off by dying cells. But Forbes doesn't
want his Salmonella robots going to the dead cancer cells already killed off by
chemotherapy. He wants them penetrating to the slow-growing, but live, cancer
cells. So his solution is to remove the ribose sensor from Salmonella.
"By knocking out the ribose receptor, we can keep the bacteria away from
dead cells, where we don't need them to go, but get them to travel into
slow-growing cells located in hard-to-reach tissue far from blood vessels," says
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