Generally speaking, we go to great lengths to rid our bodies of foreign bacteria, whether it’s by brushing our teeth, washing our hands or taking antibiotics. But new research suggests that when it comes to treating tumors, we may one day invite the bugs in. According to a study published yesterday in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a bacterium that normally resides in soil, dust and dead flesh quickly destroys large tumors in mice when injected along with chemotherapy drugs.
Current cancer treatments are limited in part by their inability to destroy poorly vascularized areas of tumors: radiation requires oxygen to kill cells and chemotherapy drugs demand a blood system to reach their target. Anaerobic bacteria, on the other hand, actually prefer oxygen-free, or hypoxic, environments. Researchers have thus wondered for some time whether such bacteria might prove useful in combating tumors. Now Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins University and his colleagues have shown that they can be. "The idea is to selectively attack these tumors from inside with the bacteria and from the outside with chemotherapy," Vogelstein explains. The team genetically engineered the bacterium Clostridium novyi, producing a toxin-free strain that, when administered with conventional drugs, eliminated nearly half of the advanced tumors in their lab mice within 24 hours. The healthy tissues surrounding the tumors, in contrast, remained intact.
The team’s so-called combination bacteriolytic therapy (COBALT) did have some negative outcomes, however. As many as 45 percent of the mice with the largest tumors died after treatment, presumably because of toxins released by the deteriorating tumor cells. "Any therapy which dramatically shrinks tumors may be subject to this side effect," the authors note. Yet although such tumor lysis is difficult to control in mice, it may be more easily controlled in humans. Still, whether or not COBALT will even work against human tumors at all remains to be seen. Says team member Kenneth Kinzler: "We hope that this research will add a new dimension to cancer treatment but realize that the way tumors respond to treatment in mice can be different than in humans."
Kate Wong | Scientific American
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21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital
Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex
21.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung
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...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
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...
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...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
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