Scientists shrink tumors with bacteria injections
Scientists at Johns Hopkins have found a way to shrink cancer tumors by injecting the cancer site with a version of bacteria known as Clostridium novyi.
Research into the anti-cancer properties of bacteria has been in progress for the past decade after researchers observed that many cancer patients showed remission after contracting certain bacterial infections.
For the study, the researchers first injected the bacterial spores into tumors in 16 pet dogs. Six dogs experienced an anti-tumor response within 21 days of receiving their first injection--three had tumors that shrunk by at least 30 percent and three had their tumors eradicated.
Next the researchers injected the same bateria spores into a female patient with an advanced soft tissue tumor in her abdomen. They chose a patient with a soft tissue tumor because such tumors are often locally advanced and have spread to normal tissue. The result was that the female patient showed a "significant" reduction in tumor size.
The researchers also tested the bacteria injection in rats with brain tumors and were able to kill the tumor cells without harming healthy tissue.
The findings of the study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, suggest that combining bacteria injections with traditional cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy, may help create a sustained anti-tumor response in the immune system. When the study was published, the researchers said they were waiting for final results in the human participant, which they expect will illustrate a stronger response in some patients than others.