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Injected bacteria could provide a potent new weapon against inoperable hard-to-treat cancers, new research suggests.

Injected bacteria could provide a potent new weapon against inoperable hard-to-treat cancers, new research suggests.

Scientists have resurrected an idea from more than a century ago to turn bugs into "biosurgeons" that can target and destroy deadly tumours.

The radical approach has already shown astounding 
results in pet dogs that were being treated for naturally-occurring tumours, completely eradicating the cancer in three animals.

In a pilot clinical trial, it also significantly reduced the size of a tumour in one human patient. Work investigating whether the treatment is suitable for humans is still going on.

tumours

The bacterium used is a modified de-toxified version of the soil bug Clostridium novyi-NT which can cause tissue-damaging infections in cattle, sheep and humans.

Because the microbe thrives only in oxygen-poor environments, it is able to target the oxygen-starved hearts of aggressive tumours.

US lead scientist Dr Saurabh Saha, from BioMed Valley 
Discoveries, a Kansas-based 
biotech company that specialises in unusual medical advances, said: "We have encouraging signs that this bacteria could 
be used to treat certain inoperable tumours, and that could give hope to some patients 
who don't have any other options."

hnews@herald.ie


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