Listen to this article Bacteria Exposure Turns Immune Cells Into Cancer-Fighting Agents By Targeting Tumors
New Study Shows Bacteria’s Potential to Combat Cancer
A recent study conducted by researchers from UNSW Sydney and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research has found that introducing bacteria to a tumor’s microenvironment could help trigger the immune system’s primary responder cells to attack cancer cells. Moreover, the study sheds light on the early signs of bacterial infection, revealing that the first cells on the scene are white blood cells called neutrophils, which play an essential role in the defense against infection. The study further shows that although neutrophils protect against disease, they can also promote tumor growth.
However, the researchers discovered that injecting inactivated samples of the Staphylococcus aureus microbe into the tumor microenvironment flips the protective function of neutrophils, creating a state of acute inflammation that triggers the immune system’s primary responder cells to attack, rather than protect, a tumor.
The researchers discovered that bacteria stimulate neutrophils to destroy tumors, and they can utilize the immune system to achieve continual anti-tumor function in immune cells.The study focused on primary tumors, the first tumor in the body, and discovered that the microbial therapy can inhibit tumor growth and protect against tumor recurrence, which is a major clinical challenge.
The researchers injected inactivated samples of the Staphylococcus aureus microbe into the tumor microenvironment, which resulted in flipping the protective function of neutrophils. Furthermore, the study used a unique imaging method called intravital imaging to observe the tumors in real-time, enabling the researchers to gain a better understanding of the process.
How Bacteria Can Help Combat Cancer
White blood cells called neutrophils are the first cells to arrive on the scene at the earliest signs of bacterial infection, and they play a vital role in defending against infection. While they generally protect against disease, they are notorious for promoting tumor growth. Neutrophils in the blood are usually linked to poorer cancer outcomes since they generate molecules that suppress other elements of the immune system and shield the tumor.
The team of scientists discovered that injecting inactivated samples of the Staphylococcus aureus microbe into the tumour microenvironment flips the protective function of neutrophils. Bacteria exposed neutrophils begin to secrete molecules that will attract fighter T cells as reinforcement. The study demonstrates how to harness acute inflammation for achieving ongoing anti-tumor function in immune cells.
Combining Therapies for Better Results
Using the immune system to fight cancer has been one of the most significant breakthroughs in cancer therapy in the last two decades, but currently, immunotherapy for improving T cell function doesn’t work for all types of cancer. The researchers used a different type of immunotherapy that targets neutrophils to understand how generating acute inflammation in the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment affects outcomes.
The study found that microbial therapy is an effective booster for checkpoint inhibitor therapy, and this synergistic effect could ultimately lead to better treatments to improve outcomes for patients with advanced or previously untreatable cancers.
The study suggests that bacteria exposure can help promote anti-tumor activity in the immune system’s primary responder cells, and microbial therapy is an effective booster for checkpoint inhibitor therapy. The researchers hope to extend these findings to develop a pathway to treat cancers that have metastasized to different locations. This new understanding of acute inflammation could advance microbial therapy for cancer and provide new hope for cancer patients.
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