Injecting tumors with dead bacteria is a promising way to treat cancer

Brittany A. Roston - Sep 29, 2021, 4:12pm CDT
Injecting tumors with dead bacteria is a promising way to treat cancer

Researchers have developed a unique and very inexpensive method for treating cancerous tumors, and it involves dead bacteria. Though the bacteria isn’t harmful to the body, the researchers explain that the patient’s immune system mobilizes to attack the substance, targeting the cancer cells at the same time and even metastases throughout the body.

Typically speaking, cancer immunotherapies are very expensive, making them inaccessible to a large number of people around the world. In comparison, the newly detailed immunotherapy, which involves injecting a slow-release substance containing dead mycobacteria into the cancerous tumor, is very low cost at approximately $20/injection.

The findings come from the Australian National University, where scientists are conducting a Phase 1 clinical trial involving late-stage cancer patients. The researchers describe how the therapy works, explaining that the body’s immune system attacks the injected dead bacteria and the surrounding cancer cells.

The resulting immune cells then multiply and spread throughout the body, enabling the immune system to also attack any other spots of cancer that may have spread beyond the injection site. The bacteria is dead, posing no threat to the body, and the treatment is non-toxic.

Thus far in the clinical trial, eight patients have been treated, one of whom experienced “significantly” improved quality of life. One of the cancers in the tested patients shrank, plus the researchers note that their treatment was able to decrease how much liquid was around the patients’ lungs. The Canberra Hospital where the Phase 1 trial is taking place has already approved a second clinical trial involving the treatment.


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