As one of the world’s most devastating diseases, cancer has claimed millions of lives the world over. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 1,685,210 people died from the disease in 2016 alone. And although scientists have been working tirelessly for years to come up with a cure, they have yet to create one; however, recent tests in South Korea could change that.
According to a recent report from Gizmodo, scientists from South Korea have created a new strain of bacteria that can actually infiltrate cancerous tumors and trick the body’s immune system into attacking the cancerous cells. The studies have yet to be conducted on humans, however, the bacteria did reduce cancer in mice during experiments.
The bacteria was created by South Korean Biologists Joon Haeng Rhee and Jung-Joon Min and their team of researchers. The team took a strain of Salmonella and bioengineered it into something of a Trojan Horse. The bacteria finds its way inside of the tumor and calls out to nearby immune cells to attack the cancerous cells.
In preliminary tests, tumors were shrunk in over half of the mice who were injected with the bacteria. Although it is early, scientists hope that the immunotherapy will be effective, and most importantly, safe on humans. Bacterial cancer therapy had died down for quite some time until 2008, when the practice gained traction again. This latest effort by Min and Rhee to revitalize bacterial cancer therapy sought to make the Salmonella typhimurium bacteria far less toxic to the human body, while also retaining the bacterium’s ability to carry therapeutic properties.
The Trojan Horse bacteria was tested specifically on mice with colon cancer. Only three days after the injections, the Salmonella was 10,000 more times abundant than those found in the vital organs of the mice. The tumors were then shrunk by the strain of bacteria in more than half of the mice.
In an interview with Gizmodo, Rhee and Min explained the results of the study further, stating, “We [documented the] total eradication of tumors in approximately 60 percent of treated subjects. The remaining 20 percent of the animals remained stable.”
Again, these treatments are still very experimental, and haven’t been tested on humans yet, so it is not certain that they will have the same effect on humans. However, the preliminary tests are incredibly promising, and may lead us to a one true cure for cancer.