(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have developed a shell that will help bacteria deliver the drug directly to cancer-infected tissue. This molecular “shield” will save them from attacks by the immune system, which sees the bacteria as a threat.
Using live bacteria to treat cancer can be too toxic. Due to the fact that they grow rapidly, the immune system sees them as a danger and triggers an inflammatory process in response. This reaction of the body forced scientists from Columbia University to improve this new way of treating cancer.
The solution was to use sugar polymers called capsular polysaccharides (CAPs), which coat the bacteria and create an “armor” that prevents the immune system from attacking. Without these polysaccharides, the bacterium would simply collapse and be unable to tolerate the drug.
To protect the bacteria with a shell, the scientists added an IPTG molecule to them, which is responsible for their interaction with the immune system. By controlling the amount of these molecules in a bacterium, you can control how long it can live in the blood.
How to treat cancer
A test on mice showed that using this technology, it is possible to increase the dosage of bacteria by 10 times for more successful treatment. After a while, IPTG molecules lose their properties, the bacterial shell disappears, and the body is cleared of them, which minimizes the negative effect of such treatment.
Study author Cam Leong notes two advantages of this method of treating tumors over standard methods: the ability to precisely control the release of drugs and direct bacteria directly into the tumor tissue.
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