Normally Harmless Bacteria Might Kill Cancer

By , Category : Cancer

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Doctors Health Press prides itself on reporting on front-line, groundbreaking treatments for the diseases that run through society. On that note, we bring now a glimpse of future cancer therapy — using a strain of bacteria found in the soil. Intriguing health news with intriguing possibilities.

Now, these aren’t the bacteria commonly used as natural supplements or found in yogurt. Those would be probiotics. Instead, these are “Clostridium sporogenes,” harmless bacteria that are widespread in the soil. This type of bacteria is expected to be tested in cancer patients in the coming years, as it seems to specifically target tumors.

The method goes like this: spores of the bacterium are injected into cancer patients, only growing inside solid tumors. An anti-cancer drug is injected separately into the patient in an inactive form, called a “pro-drug.” When that pro-drug reaches the tumor, the bacteria activate the drug, allowing it to destroy only the cancerous cells around it.

The researchers have been working on this idea for a long time. They have now created an improved form of Clostridium, which can now be produced in far greater quantities in the tumor than previous versions. And its ability to activate the drug is much stronger.

Any new cancer therapy must show an ability to target cancer cells while excluding healthy cells. This new bacteria-driven therapy does so. Clostridia are an ancient group of bacteria that evolved on the planet before it had an oxygen-rich atmosphere — so they thrive in low-oxygen conditions. When Clostridia spores are injected into a cancer patient, they will only grow in oxygen-depleted environments, which is the environment at the center of solid tumors. This is a totally natural phenomenon that could be exploited to kill cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue untouched.

The research may ultimately lead to a simple and safe procedure for curing a wide range of tumors. It is believed that this therapy will kill all types of tumor cells. The treatment is considered superior to a surgical procedure, especially for patients at high risk or with difficult tumor locations.

The researchers say that the bacterial strain will be used in a clinical trial in 2013 and, if successful, could become a major new treatment in the battle against cancer. Stay tuned for future news on this exciting possibility.

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Dr. Victor Marchione, MD

About the Author, Browse Victor's Articles

Victor Marchione, MD received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years. Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The... Read Full Bio »