Salmonella bacteria is the latest tool being used in the fight against cancer.
Scientists discovered that the bacteria helped flag up cancer cells to the body’s immune system, which was then able to find and fight them.
The researchers, who were working with mouse and human cells, hope the breakthrough could lead to the development of a new immunotherapies or therapeutic vaccine.
Their study was published on Wednesday in the Science Translational Medicine and explained how patrolling immune cells often recognise cancer cells as abnormal and destroy them during the early stages of cancer
The immune cells rely on a protein called connexin 43 which aids communication between cells, but as cancer grows, there is not enough connexin 43 to identify the cancer cells.
Maria Rescigno of European Institute of Oncology in Milan, who worked on the study, said: “We did experiments first in mice and then in cancer cells and immune cells from human patients, and found that the salmonella was doing exactly the same job. Now we are ready to go into (testing on) humans, but we are waiting for authorisation.”
The study found that injecting salmonella into cells increased the amount of connexin 43 in the tumour cells, solving the shortage problem.
Copyright Press Association 2010