Bacterial-mediated therapy of prostatic tumours

Key Information

Cancer type: 
Research Institution: 
University College Cork
Grant Amount: 
Start date: 
December 1, 2012
End date: 
August 31, 2016

Scientific Project Abstract

The ideal anti-cancer therapy would selectively eradicate tumours, whilst minimizing side effects to normal tissue. Systemic chemotherapy is aimed at killing cancer cells, but efficacy is poor, and collateral effects (destruction of immune cells, illness etc) can make its use unacceptable. To successfully address the issue of specifying therapeutics solely to tumours, it is necessary to identify unique tumour attributes that separate them from healthy cells.

To this end, we have shown that bacteria are naturally capable of achieving this, localising to and growing specifically in tumours / metastases following intravenous injection. Our research focuses on the use of non-disease causing bacteria, such as probiotic bacteria regularly eaten in yoghurts etc. We propose to develop chemotherapies that are activated by such bacteria growing in prostate tumours. The 'natural' nature of this strategy is such that advancement to clinical trial in prostate cancer patients is likely to be rapid.

For the non-scientist

One-line description: 
Using probiotic bacteria to aid the treatment of prostate cancer
What this project involves: 

Developing therapeutics which specifically target cancer cells and leave healthy cells unharmed is a difficult process. It has been shown that certain harmless bacteria are capable of localising to and growing in tumour tissue only. This project aims to develop a way of manipulating these bacteria to produce and release therapeutic agents thereby causing death of the tumour.