Friday, December 26, 2008

How Harmful Bacteria Can Fight off Cancer?

Back in 2004, an experimental cancer vaccine using modified listeria bacteria showed great promise in animal studies by successfully treating new cancers in mice. At present human clinical trials - a pharmaceutical service, are underway.

Listeria monocytogenes is a deadly bacterium commonly found in soil, stream water, sewage, plants, and food and is responsible for causing listeriosis – a lethal food-borne infection with a fatality rate of 25%. On the other hand, the Salmonella bacterium, which, some time back, made headlines by tainting tomatoes nationwide, has a less than 1% mortality rate. Further, the deadliness of listerosis is to some extent attributed to the infection's ability to spread to the nervous system causing meningitis.

Nevertheless, a genetically altered version of the scary pathogen raises hopes that an engineered listeria vaccine can target cancers such as pancreatic and ovarian cancer, and perhaps leukemia as well.

The Bacteria Therapy's Modus Operandi

The bacteria rev up our immune system's engines to act fiercely against cancer cells. First they incite an “inherent” response from the immune system, and second, cause the cancer antigens to seep into the cells, which stimulate a potent "acquired" immune response. Thus causing the immune system to step on the gas real hard.

This immune response so generated induce both inflammation and an immune response to specific tumor antigens thereby attacking the tumor with generalized antitumor chemicals including interferon and tumor necrosis factor, coupled with activated T-cells that attack and kill the tumor. And experts believe that Listeria is by far the best bug to induce that kind of a response, i.e. activating both the innate and acquired immunity to work in tandem.

Phase I/II clinical trials pharmaceutical service results have shown that the live Listeria cancer vaccine “Lovaxin” by Advaxis is safe for humans. The trials though meant to assess safety also found that six of the 15 treated patients were still alive 2 years compared to their their life expectancy at the beginning of the trial that was six months or less.

As research continues, the deadly bacteria may eventually turnout to be a helpful buddy.

Posts, Possibly of Interest

How Some Vegetables Fight Cancer

Cough Drug Ingredient May Treat Prostate Cancer

Do Vitamin Supplements Prevent Cancer?

Smoking May Up Colorectal Cancer Risk & Death

Low-income men more likely to be diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer

How Happiness May Prevent Breast Cancer?

The Power of Naturals Against Cancer

Moisturized Mice Mean Skin Cancer - Do They?

Breast Cancer Disclosure: An Emotional Battle for Women

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