Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Salmonella and Cancer Don't Get Along

Researchers in Germany found that various types of bacteria like salmonella can migrate into cancer tumors, making it easier get rid of them.

When the body recognizes salmonella, its initial response is to release a messenger called tumor necrosis factor, or TNF-alpha. This messenger causes an inflammatory reaction in the blood vessels and causes them to become more permeable, including those of the tumor. Researchers hope to use this phenomenon to allow salmonella bacteria to enter into the tumor and assist in attacking it.

Salmonella, which can survive in even the most anaerobic environments like a tumor, has always been known to be generally bad friends with cancer. Previously, this method was not preferred because the risk of infection from actual salmonella was too high. Now, however, researchers hope to develop a strain of the bacteria to specifically permeate into and attack the tumor, which would be especially useful in treating cancers that are untouchable by usual chemotherapy.

Treating cancer with salmonella. Oh, the dramatic irony.

Caption: Salmonella (green) trespassing into a tumor (blue and purple).


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