Scientists in China have successful created DNA-modified salmonella bacteria, with the hopes that this this could be used to help fight cancer cells whilst leaving healthy cells undamaged.

Salmonella is most commonly found in raw meat and eggs. Scientist working at Hong Kong University altered the bacteria through engineering and synthetic biology to create YB1, an anaerobic bacterium. Anaerobe bacterium only grow and reproduce in areas without oxygen such as inside solid bacteria.

A trial conducted in mice showed YB1 could colonise the tumour and suppress metastasis, reported the International Business Times. Models of breast cancer showed reduced tumour growth of 50%, whilst models of liver cancer showed 90% suppressed growth. With these results in mind the researchers are now looking to develop the altered salmonella into a tumour-targeting agent for use in humans. It was seen that 26% of the mice in the breast cancer model showed complete tumour regression.

Professor Jiandong Huang, who led the research said the treatment could be viewed as a “guided missile” which can deliver “destructive warheads to the tumour tissue by means of delivering therapeutic proteins and drugs, resulting in tumour regression.”

He also noted that the treatment is expected to begin clinical trials in the next few years.

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