A harmless bacteria, Clostridium sporogenes, that is found in soil could be used to deliver cancer drugs in a “natural therapy”. Researchers from the University of Nottingham have found a way to inject the bacteria into patients, where it then grows inside solid tumours.
Professor Nigel Minton, of the University of Nottingham, said: “Clostridia are an ancient group of bacteria that evolved on the planet before it had an oxygen-rich atmosphere and so they thrive in low-oxygen conditions.” Because of this unique feature, the bacteria will only thrive in oxygen-depleted environments, such as the centre of a tumour. The spores of the bacteria produce a specific enzyme within the tumour. An anti-cancer drug is then injected, but in an inactive form. The bacteria’s enzyme activates the drug, which can then destroy tumour cells.
The technique was reported at the conference of the Society for General Microbiology in York. After successful laboratory tests of the technique, clinical trials are expected to begin in the Netherlands in 2013.
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