Bacteria found in soil called Clostridium novyi (C. novyi) is known to cause tissue-damaging infections. But researchers from John Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a modified version that triggers an anti-tumor response in rats, dogs and humans. The breakthrough could complement existing methods to provide better targeted treatment of cancerous growths.
Led by associate professor of oncology, Shibin Zhou, the team first began investigating the potential of C. noyvi more than 10 years ago. The research was inspired by studies of century-old accounts detailing an immunotherapy called Coley toxins. This treatment arose from observations that some cancer patients demonstrated remission after acquiring certain bacterial infections.
The C. noyvi microbe relies on low-oxygen environments to thrive. This makes it a good candidate for the targeting of oxygen-starved cells in tumors, which can prove difficult to treat with chemotherapy and radiation. The team modified the bacteria to eliminate one of the toxin-producing genes and make it safer for therapeutic use, then observed its effects through a series of studies. More here Injected bacteria found to reduce tumors in rats, dogs and humans.