Listen to this article Bacteria Engineered To Combat Cancer In Mice Proves Successful Say Scientists
Researchers Discover Potential Skin-Based Microbes and Bacteria to Fight Cancer
Stanford Medicine researchers have found a promising approach for developing new cancer treatments. The researchers altered the genomes of skin-based microbes and bacteria to fight cancer. During the experiments, scientists applied the altered microbes to mice with cancer, which caused a decrease in tumor growth.
Microbes Altered to Target Specific Tumors
The bacteria used in the experiments was Staphylococcus epidermidis. It was taken from the fur of mice and genetically engineered to produce a protein that stimulates the immune system to target specific tumors. This protein production triggered the production of immune cells called CD8 T cells that target specific antigens related to skin cancer tumors.
Successful Treatment on Mice
The modified bacteria were successful in killing aggressive types of metastatic skin cancer in mice. The treatment was applied gently to the fur, causing no inflammation. The CD8 T cells were able to rapidly reproduce when encountering a matching tumor, causing the mass to shrink or extinguish entirely.
Unknown Microbiome Functions
The discovery highlights the world of microbiomes and the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that reside there. While gut biomes receive much attention, the skin hosts millions of entities with unknown functions. Stanford researchers found that staph epidermidis cells triggered the production of CD8 T cells, hijacking them into producing CD8 T cells that target specific antigens related to skin cancer tumors.
Caution Needed for Further Testing
While the experiments were successful on mice, caution is needed when applying it to humans. Human and mouse biology is similar, but treatments that work on mice may not be effective on humans. The researchers have yet to determine if S. epidermidis will trigger an immune response in humans. If it doesn’t, they may need to find a different microbe to alter. Furthermore, researchers designed this treatment to address skin cancer tumors by applying it topically, but it remains unclear whether it provides any benefits for internal cancers.
Hopeful for Human Trials
The Stanford team anticipates that human trials will commence within the next few years, pending more testing on mice and other animals. They also anticipate that this treatment could be used against infectious diseases in addition to cancer cells. Despite the necessary caution and further testing, the discovery brings hope to potential new cancer treatments in the future.
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