—Synchronized bacteria attack tumors “Engineered microbes grow and burst in cycles to release anticancer molecules” In the 1890s, a surgeon named William B. Coley injected cancer patients with dead Streptococcus bacteria in hopes of coaxing the people’s immune systems to attack their tumors. Although these so-called Coley’s toxins had some success, doctors largely ignored them in favor of radiation and other therapies. But the idea of enlisting bacteria to fight cancer lives on. In recent years, researchers have tried to exploit bacteria’s affinity for tumors’ low-oxygen and immune-cell-free environments, engineering the microbes to attack the malignant cells. Now a team of synthetic biologists has designed bacteria that grow and die in programmed cycles, allowing for a controlled release of anticancer molecules and preventing unchecked bacterial growth (Nature 2016, DOI: 10.1038/nature18930).
by Michael Torrice |
July 21, 2016