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Cancer Biol Ther. 2004 Aug;3(8):708-14. Epub 2004 Aug 10.

Microbial-based therapy of cancer: a new twist to age old practice.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


The use of bacteria in the regression of tumors has long been known. Various approaches for using bacteria in cancer therapy include the use of bacteria as sensitizing agents for chemotherapy, as delivery agents for cancer drugs and as agents for gene therapy. The tumor regression stimulated by infecting microorganisms has been attributed to activation of the immune system of the host. However, recent studies indicate that when tumor-harboring mice with defective immune systems are infected with certain microorganisms, the regression of the tumor is still observed, suggesting that there are other host factors contributing to the microbial associated regression of tumors. Since the use of live or attenuated bacteria for tumor regression has associated toxic effects, studies are in progress to identify a pure microbial metabolite or any component of the microbial cell that might have anti-cancer activity. It has now been demonstrated that a redox protein from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a cupredoxin, can enter into human cancer cells and trigger the apoptotic cell death. In vivo, this cupredoxin can lead to the regression of tumor growth in immunodeficient mice harboring xenografted melanomas and breast cancer tumors without inducing significant toxic effects, suggesting that it has potential anti-cancer activity. This bacterial protein interacts with p53 and modulates mammalian cellular activity. Hence, it could potentially be used as an anti-cancer agent for solid tumors and has translational value in tumor-targeted or in combinational-biochemotherapy strategies for cancer treatments. Here, we focus on diverse approaches to cancer biotherapy, including bacteriolytic and bacterially-derived anti-cancer agents with an emphasis on their mechanism of action and therapeutic potential.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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