By: Katie Walker
A team of researchers across the nation have made an important discovery in the reduction of hypoxic tumors with the aid of an anaerobic bacterium: Clostridium novyi.
Since many tumors are highly vascular, they are susceptible to the transmission of anticancer drugs. There are regions that lack the blood vessels and oxygen necessary for chemotherapy to destroy the cells. The conditions in these regions are hypoxic, but still contain continuously replicating cancerous cells called neoplasts. The problem with eliminating cancer in these cases is that even if the majority of the tumor is destroyed, any neoplasts that survive could potentially divide again and again to create another tumor, resulting in more cancer.
However, researchers utilized the spores of an anaerobic bacteria C. novyi to lyse the cells of these hypoxic tumors. By injecting the bacteria spores directly into the tumor, the bacteria would proliferate inside the hypoxic tumor, killing the cancerous cells, but stop when it came into contact with normal, vascular tissue.
A team of researchers from BioMed Valley Discoveries found success with their intratumoral injection method by first using rat brain tissue. They then tested it on dogs diagnosed with cancer. After these trials, the method was used on a human patient, and subsequent scans showed that the bacteria were dramatically destroying the tumor.
With the release of their findings to the journal Science, the researchers have effectively added another tool to the anticancer toolbox, one that will hopefully prove useful to future patients.