THE bacteria generally do not enjoy a good reputation, since each of boi first thinks of certain strains that can trigger even serious diseases such as pneumonia or the meningitis. Despite this unfortunate name, there are many useful bacteria known as probiotics, which help the body in different ways.
Researchers fromUniversity of Cincinnati they designed a probiotic designed to target and break down the defenses of cancer cells, offering therapies an easier way to kill tumors.
The results of the study were published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.
Bacteria Against Cancer: Here’s What Research Says
Nalinikanth Kotagiri, Ph.D., senior author of this study, assistant professor at the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy of the UC and member ofUC Cancer Center, studies the “solid cancers“Or those defined as abnormal cell growths in”solid”In organs such as the breast or prostate, as opposed to leukemia, a cancer that affects the blood.
Kotagiri explained that many solid tumors have a cellular matrix consisting of collagen and hyaluronic acid. The matrix forms a barrier around cells and makes it more difficult for antibodies and immune cells to reach tumors.
Shindu Thomas, the first author of this study and a graduate student in the Kotagiri laboratory, he worked with E. coli Nissle, a bacterium that has been used as a probiotic for about 100 years and it is different from the E. coli strains that cause the disease. Through new technology, any protein or enzyme can be produced on E. coli Nissle bacteria.
In this case, the bacteria were designed to secrete an abundance of smaller structures called outer membrane vesicles on the outer edge of cells. The vesicles carry the same materials found on the bacteria themselves, so the researchers designed the bacteria to carry an enzyme that breaks down the extracellular matrix of tumors.
Kotagiri claimed that bacteria tend to thrive in low-oxygen, immunodeficient environments, two characteristics found in solid tumors. For this reason, specially designed bacteria are naturally attracted to these tumors.
“We took advantage of this unique feature of E. coli Nissle to locate these tumors “, Kotagiri said. “And then, once the bacteria have settled there, they start to produce nano-scale vesicles which carry the enzyme much deeper into the tumor matrix “.
After creating the new probiotic, the researchers studied the effect of bacteria on animal models of breast and colon cancer. The bacteria are given intravenously about four to five days before the cancer treatment, allowing time for the bacteria to populate and break down the cancer’s defenses and prepare it for treatment.
After administering the bacteria and then the subsequent doses of immunotherapy or another drug – drugs used in targeted therapy, Kotagiri said the mice survived twice as long as those who received anticancer therapy alone. Imaging showed that the bacteria and the enzyme were effective in breaking down the extracellular matrix and allowing the therapy to reach the cancer cells.
During the study it was found that the bacteria affected the tumors but did not attack healthy cells in other organs such as the heart, lungs, liver and brain. Kotagiri said this phenomenon demonstrates that bacteria can be safe and will not cause infections in other parts of the body, but more research is needed to examine their safety in large animal models and potentially in humans, particularly in immunodeficient environments.
“This information always comes with a word of caution on how to use this strategy without causing sepsis or full-blown infections in the body.“, Specified the scientist.
Kotagiri claimed that his lab began taking a closer look at how bacterial probiotics can address biomedical problems around 2018, as there are one to two times more bacterial cells than human cells in your body at any given time.
The scientist highlighted how his lab began to take a closer look how bacterial probiotics can address biomedical problems around 2018, as there are one to two times more bacterial cells than human cells in your body at any given time.
“There are bacteria in the intestines, on the skin, in the lungs, in the mouth and even in tumors “, Kotagiri said. “So why not take advantage of them and find interesting ways to make them a little more proactive?”
If the engineered bacteria continue to prove safe and effective, Kotagiri said that There are numerous varieties of ways to engineer bacteria for different uses, including the potential use of bacteria to treat disease conditions in the gut, mouth and skin. There is also the potential to engineer bacteria armed with multiple proteins and molecules to create a monotherapy platform (or therapy that uses one type of treatment) rather than simply facilitating combination therapy.
“So the bacteria can essentially act as a mother ship that would carry the necessary therapeutic payload to unique niches in the body and from there it’s a self-sustaining entity. While the possibilities are endless, there are also significant challenges. We must be good administrators to make this type of testing possible so that the community understands what the limits are and what can be done “, concluded the scientist.
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