Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Yogurt bacteria developed into urine test for liver tumors

CANCER DIGEST – June 10, 2015 – Researchers have found a new use for bacteria, identifying liver tumors much earlier so treatment can be more effective.

Researchers have long been pursuing the use of bacteria to develop anti-cancer vaccines, engineering bacteria to specifically target and kill cancer cells. Now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of California at San Diego have engineered a strain of the E. coli
bacteria found in yogurt that colonizes the liver and produces a luminescent signal that can be detected with a simple urine test.

According to the MIT press release many types of digestive cancers tend to spread to the liver, and the earlier doctors can find such tumors, the more likely they can treat them. Previous studies had shown that bacteria infect and grow in tumors, where there are lots of nutrients and the body’s immune system is blunted. As a result many scientists are looking at developing bacterial treatments for cancer.

To use bacteria to detect cancer spread, the researchers engineered a bacteria called Nissle 1917, a strain of E. coli that can be delivered orally like a probiotic found in yogurt. They found that orally delivered bacteria do not accumulate in tumors all over the body, but they do zero in on liver tumors because the liver portal vein carries them from the digestive tract to the liver.

So far they have only tried their bacterial diagnostic in mice, and the MIT team is now pursuing the idea of using probiotic bacteria to treat cancer, as well as for diagnosing it.

No comments:

Post a Comment