From foes to friends – bacteria join the fight against cancer
Cancer Prostate Cancer Immune System

From foes to friends – bacteria join the fight against cancer

Madhura Bhave
Madhura Bhave

Scientists have identified a bacterial strain that can be used against prostate cancer. This is a new example of how bacteria’s anti-tumour properties can be enlisted in designing new cancer therapies.

In 10 seconds? Researchers studying prostate pain found a rare strain of bacteria that can make treating prostate cancer much more effective by enabling checkpoint inhibitor therapy.

Checkpoint what? Checkpoint inhibitor therapy. In some cancers, we can switch off the false signals that cancer cells send to stop the immune system from destroying them. This approach is called checkpoint inhibitor therapy, but it doesn’t work in prostate cancer, as these tumours don’t provoke an immune reaction. (Find out more)

So how can bacteria help with that? Researchers found a strain called CP1 that always migrates to the prostate, where it causes an inflammation – and triggers an immune response – making checkpoint inhibitor therapy possible. Scientists tested this on mice and found their prostate cancer survival rates doubled, due to immune cells being activated. (Read more)

Wait, I thought some bacteria caused cancer? And so they do, but we’ve also known for a while that some of them can stunt and kill certain tumours. This is because they reduce the oxygen and nutrient supply that keeps those tumours alive. (Read more)

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