Scientists in South Korea have found that the bacteria can permeate tumours and kill cancer cells.
Researchers and scientists from South Korea’s Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital carried out a study that used salmonella to target cancer cells.
The body’s immune system cannot readily detect cancer cells because it is not seen as “foreign” to the body. However, the study revealed that Salmonella, a rod-shaped bacteria known to cause food poisoning, enables the immune system to fight cancer cells.
According to The Independent, the scientists altered a strain of Salmonella to make it less powerful as a poisoning bug and instead use the bacteria’s protein to make the immune system stronger.
Professor Joon Haeng Rhee from the University told The Independent: “We believe that this was turning tumour-helping immune cells, Dr Jekyll, into tumour-killing ones, Mr Hyde.”
These have been tested on animals, particular in mice with bowel cancer, and over half of the tested species were restored to health without side effects.
In the same report, Professor Kevin Harrington, from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “It has been known for some time that certain types of bacteria, including strains of salmonella, are able to grow in tumours but not in normal tissues.
“However, until now, attempts to use bacteria as anti-cancer therapies have had limited success, both in the laboratory and in the clinic.”
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