“Scientists have recruited modified bacteria to help fight cancer, which successfully infiltrated tumors and activated the immune system to kill malignant cells, a new study reports. Tumors size decreased below detectable limits in 11 out of 20 mice that received injections of a strain of bacteria designed to be innocuous, yet able to effectively suppress the growth of cancerous masses.”
See Hijacking bacteria to kill cancerGood news. Cancer a leading killer in our modern world, a disease which has been around since ancient times but which the best we can do often is to extend life or decrease mortality a bit. A bacterium has been engineered to thrive inside tumours while delivering a substance which inspires attacks by human immune systems, a match made in Heaven.
Many decades ago, I was involved with one early “magic bullet”, I123, a radioisotope of Iodine which was magically taken up by cancer of the thyroid gland and delivered a lethal dose of radiation with much less harm to normal tissue. In this example researchers have figured out how to do the same with a bacterium which thrives in the low-oxygen environment of tumours, concentrating the bacteria there, while delivering a protein that draws the attention of our immune response. Clever! Let’s hope this proves generally effective and makes a real difference. Such a targeted approach is likely to be easier on patients and more effective than broadband approaches like radiation and chemotherapy which sometimes do a lot of harm to the patient.