“Salmonella suddenly acquires an insatiable taste for brain tumors.”

Salmonella genetically engineered to eat brain tumors

#Health

Sat, Jan 14th, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Because of the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium's ability to navigate through dense tissue, biomedical engineers at Duke University have genetically modified it to seek out brain tumors and “express tumor killing proteins in those sites.”

By adapting it to make it deficient in an essentially building block for its survival, an organic compound called purine, salmonella suddenly acquires an insatiable taste for brain tumors.

Why? Because Purines are enriched in tumors, so this way the bacteria only finds a good supply of its much-needed foodstuff in enriched tumor regions.

“Next we engineered the tumor-killing cargo of these bacteria only to be expressed and released when the oxygen tension was low,” Bellamkonda continued. “It turns out because tumors grow rapidly, most of them have low oxygen tension. So the tumor killing proteins were only released by the bacteria in tumor regions. With this approach, we show a 20 percent cure rate, which is phenomenal for this challenging condition.”

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