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Glioblastoma Cancer Update: Genetically-Modified Salmonella Bacteria Kills Brain Tumors

Update Date: Jan 12, 2017 11:40 AM EST

Scientists are making headway in the fight against one of the most aggressive types of cancer, Glioblastoma. In the latest Glioblastoma cancer update, scientists are using genetically modified salmonella bacteria to kill the brain tumors, increasing the rate of survival of cancer patients.

Glioblastoma cancer is one of the deadliest and most aggressive type of cancers. This cancer attacks the brain and most patients diagnosed with Glioblastoma, at an average, only have fifteen months to live, even with the best care possible. Once diagnosed, only 10 percent of Glioblastoma cancer patients live up to five years. With the new treatment being developed, scientists are hoping to increase the rate of survival of Glioblastoma patients.

According to previous studies, the presence of bacteria triggers the immune system to begin recognizing and attacking tumors. However, the strain of Salmonella, S. Typhimurium, has been proven ineffective. Improving on this discovery, the biomedical scientists genetically modified the same but detoxified variant of Salmonella bacteria.

The Salmonella bacteria was genetically modified to become deficient in an enzyme called purine forcing the bacteria to seek another source of the enzyme. Since tumors are an excellent source for the enzyme purine, the scientists were able to force the genetically modified and purine-deficient Salmonella to seek and attack the tumors.

The Salmonella bacteria was further modified to produce compounds, Azurin and p53. These compounds have the ability to instruct cells to kill themselves but only in a low-oxygenated environment. And since there are low oxygen levels in tumors, not only are the genetically modified Salmonella bacteria able to seek the tumors but also kill them completely.

The scientists whose study is published in the journal, Molecular Therapy, directly injected the genetically modified Salmonella bacteria on the brains of the rats infected with Glioblastoma.

The treatment caused complete tumor regression and extended the lives of the rats by a hundred days which is roughly equivalent to ten human years. However, the treatment was only successful to only twenty percent of the rats being tested.

The scientists see the 20 percent chance of success of the treatment an encouraging and welcomed news in the fight against Glioblastoma cancer where survival rates are low. The scientists are working on improving the treatment by genetically modifying the bacteria in producing other drugs that would cause faster and further damage to tumors.

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