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Published on 21 August 2009

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Bacteria used to treat bowel cancer

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Bowel cancer sufferers may be offered hope from bacteria that have beengenetically modified to deliver a human growth factor to damaged cellsin the gut, it has been revealed.

Scientists at the Institute of Food Research have engineered Bacteroides ovatus to deliver the hormone KGF-2 when in the presence of a type of sugar rare in normal diets.

The study, reported in the journal Gut, means patients will be able to control their medication by ingesting the sugar known as xylan, possibly dissolved in a liquid, after swallowing the bacteria in capsules.

Research leader Simon Carding said: “This is the first time that anyone has been able to control a therapeutic protein in a living system using something that can be eaten.”

The therapy has already had positive results when tested on mice. Researchers said mice with colitis experienced a reduction in bleeding and accelerated healing after taking the treatment. They believe the combination should also work in other bowel disorders.

“We have other strains of the bacteria that will deliver other therapeutic agents that will be effective in other forms of inflammatory bowel disease and also colorectal cancer,” they said.

Copyright Press Association 2009

Institute of Food Research



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