Using Salmonella to Fight Brain Cancer

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Scientists Believe Salmonella Can Fight Brain Cancer

By Mark Febus, 9:00 am on February 15, 2017

According to a study published in December 2016 in the prestigious journal Molecular Therapy-Oncolytics, a bacterium normally associated with food poisoning may be the key to fighting a deadly form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma. These types of brain tumors typically have poorly defined margins, so they are difficult to remove surgically. They also do not respond well to chemotherapy since many of the medications cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. The median survival time following a glioblastoma diagnosis is only 15 months, with 10 percent of those who have the condition surviving 5 years. Dayton, OH, elderly care professionals discuss the findings of the research into the salmonella bacterium’s ability to fight brain cancer.

Salmonella the Cancer Fighter

Researchers from Duke University performed tests using a genetically modified form of salmonella on rats with aggressive glioblastomas. A remarkable 20 percent of the rats survived for 100 days, which is the human equivalent of 10 years. The strain of salmonella used in the study was detoxified, so there was no immune system response. The bacteria were naturally cleared from the body once the tumors were destroyed.

How Salmonella Attacks Cancer

Researchers used a strain of Salmonella that was deficient in an enzyme called purine. Tumors naturally contain high levels of purine, so the bacteria seek them out as a food source. The bacteria were also modified to produce Azurin and p53. These compounds tell cells to self destruct in an oxygen depleted environment. Tumor cells reproduce so rapidly that the surrounding environment is normally low in oxygen.

Next Steps

Approximately 80 percent of the rats studied did not survive or show a change in survival time. This may be because the rate of tumor growth outpaced the bacteria or the bacteria did not penetrate the tumor effectively. Researchers stress more experiments are needed to determine if providing additional doses at key stages in the cancer’s development may increase the survival rate.

If your loved one has a brain tumor or another medical condition and needs help managing his or her health, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We provide reliable live-in and respite care. Dayton, OH, seniors can benefit from our care services, which are designed to help them maintain a healthy diet, physical exercise, and social ties with friends and family. Contact a trusted Care Manager at 937-353-7997 to set up a free consultation and learn how our services can help your loved one.

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