Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bacterial protein kills tumors

28.10.2002


New weapon in the fight against cancer?



The use of live bacteria to treat cancer goes back a hundred years. But while the therapy can sometimes shrink tumors, the treatment usually leads to toxicity, limiting its value in medicine.

Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have isolated a protein secreted by bacteria that kills cancer cells but appears to have no harmful side effects. Tested in mice injected with human melanomas, the protein shrank the malignancies, but, in contrast with other studies using whole bacteria, caused no deaths or adverse reactions in the laboratory animals.


"Bacterial proteins could well be a new weapon in the war against cancer," said Ananda Chakrabarty, distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology and one of the study’s investigators.

Results of the three-year-long study are published in the October 29 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Oddly, the protein the researchers isolated is a well-studied molecule called azurin that is involved in the everyday process cells use to generate energy. This is the first report, however, that azurin is an effective anticancer agent.

The protein was isolated from the growth medium of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that is often resistant to antibiotics and causes serious respiratory infections in people who are particularly susceptible, such as patients with cystic fibrosis or severe burns. The bacterium protects itself from destruction by killing macrophages, the immune system’s first line of attack against a foreign body.

In the UIC study, specially-bred immunodeficient mice implanted with human melanoma were treated with half a milligram of azurin daily for 22 days. At the conclusion of the trial, the average size of the tumors in these mice was 60 percent smaller than those in untreated mice. None of the mice showed signs of illness or loss of weight.

The researchers said that azurin appears to work by stabilizing the p53 protein, a product of the p53 gene, known as a tumor suppressor because it prevents the formation of cancers through a cascade of molecular events that either stops cells from dividing or induces a process called programmed cell death. Normally, the p53 protein is short-lived, surviving just a few minutes in the cell before degrading. But azurin winds its way into the nucleus of the tumor cell, where it binds to the p53 protein and protects it from degradation, thus raising its level within the cell.

According to Dr. Tapas Das Gupta, a co-investigator and head of surgical oncology at UIC, preliminary data show that azurin kills several types of cancer cells, including breast and colon cancer.

"These results suggest that azurin could be a useful anticancer agent not just for melanoma but for different kinds of tumors," Das Gupta said. But he cautioned that extensive studies are needed to confirm the inital laboratory results.

The first observation that bacteria can thwart tumors was made in 1893 by New York physician William Coley, who found that bone cancer patients who contracted bacterial infections survived longer.

Much more recently, researchers at Johns Hopkins University used anaerobic bacteria, bacteria that thrive without oxygen, to destroy the hard cores of tumors. Radiation and chemotherapy are ineffective in these areas because they lack blood and oxygen. In the Hopkins studies, whole "de-fanged" bacteria were used. But although their tumors shrank, a large proportion of the experimental mice died, presumably because of toxins released either by the bacteria or the dying cancer cells.

"Our research suggests we can achieve a therapeutic outcome using bacterial proteins, without the toxicity associated with live bacteria," Chakrabarty said.


Other authors of the study were UIC researchers Tohru Yamada, Masatoshi Goto, Vasu Punj, Olga Zaborina, Mei Ling Chen, Kazuhide Kimbara, Dibyen Majumdar and Elizabeth Cunningham.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Cancer Institute.

Sharon Butler | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uic.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system
22.09.2017 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

nachricht Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>