Topic of the Day - 'Scientists find good in probiotic yoghurts'
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
The finding from Cork:
A Bacteria commonly found in probiotic yogurt has been found to be a safe and effective way to deliver gene therapies to treat cancer. Research, uncovered by a team in UCC found that harmless bacteria (bifidobacteria) have a natural ability to travel through the body and grow inside tumours. The team from the Cork Cancer Research Centre found that it can now genetically engineer these bacteria so that they will pump out anti-cancer agents specifically inside tumours .
The revelation by the UCC team could potentially eliminate the need for painful IV injections when administering chemo- therapy drugs and would not have the toxic effect many current cancer therapies have on healthy cells. According to the research team, the findings show s that harmless bacteria (bifidobacteria) have a natural ability to travel through the body and grow specifically inside tumours.
Dr Tangney said given the main goal of cancer treatment is to focus therapy on tumours without harming healthy cells, their findings were very exciting.
"We can now genetically engineer these bacteria so that they will pump out anti-cancer agents specifically inside tumours," he said.
"When a patient's cancer has spread, then ideally, a treatment should be administered throughout a patient's body (eg intravenous administration) to allow treatment of any tumours present, including secondary tumours at early stages of development.
"However, current chemotherapy drugs administered in this fashion are toxic to many healthy cell types, often resulting in severe side effects for the patient. This is why we are so excited about this research," Dr Tangney said.
The findings have been welcomed world-wide. Noriyuki Kasahara, president of the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy of Cancer said the work at CCRC was cutting edge: "No one has ever shown before that you can take an orally administered safe bacteria and have it hone into a tumour mass before and act there." Work on the project has been under way for two years and was funded by the Health Research Board.