A team of scientists from columbia university developed a new cancer treatment based on the use of genetically modified bacteria. It should be noted that these are harmless bacteria for humans. That is, if they are administered to us, they will not cause us any infection. Instead, they are prepared to go into tumors and, from there, sound the alarm for the immunity system face them.

In fact, this should be natural. The immune system doesn’t just attack external agents that enter the body. It also goes against those very cells that start behaving in an unusual way. As tumors, Of course. The problem is that cancer cells have the ability to evade the immune system in a variety of ways. For this reason, many cancer treatments focus precisely on improving this lost response.

In this case, described in a study in the journal advances in scienceare used genetically modified bacteria with two goals. On the one hand, addressing specifically for tumor cells and not to other parts of the body. And on the other hand, send signals to the immune system so that he realizes the presence of the tumor, despite his tricks to avoid it. So far, it has only been tested in mice, but the results were promising enough to warrant further investigation.

A bacteria-based cancer treatment

The bacteria genetically modified by these scientists can be administered in two different ways. Or directly into the tumor, or into the bloodstream. In this case, they were able to target the tumor without affecting other parts of the body.

It was one of the modifications that were made to them. The other consisted of the lchemokine releasewhich are molecules that serve as immune system alarm bell. Specifically, two were used. the ones that attract “killer” T cells and those that attract dendritic cells.

The latter are also known as antigen presenting cells, because its function is precisely that. They make a first attack on the foreign agent and then take a fragment, known as an antigen, and expose it for other immune cells to detect and come to their aid. So what this cancer treatment does is force the immune system to respond. The bacterium burrows into the tumor, deals a first blow and leaves it marked for an attack that will also be powered by the “killer” part of the bacterium.

obesity in mice, fat, white hamster shallow focus photo
Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

Next step: clinical trials

So far, this cancer treatment has been shown to very promising in mice. However, the research authors plan to further optimize the process. Once they achieve this, the next step would be to consider the possibility of conducting human clinical trials. It’s the only way to verify if it really is effective. The fact that it works in mice is a sign of optimism, but caution must be maintained until clinical trials are completed. That’s what we always say with any cancer treatment; but unfortunately it is. Little by little, with more and more progress.

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