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According to a recent study featured in MIT Technology Review, a team of scientists from John Hopkins University may be on the verge of making a major breakthrough in cancer treatment. Their research results show that bacteria could help destroy cancer cells in patients with cancer of the liver, lung, or pancreas.
Many doctors and researchers try to treat cancer without resorting to therapies such as radium and chemo that are so debilitating to the patient. But even new treatments like the so-called "magic bullet" that target specific cancer cells directly have serious side effects.
In their clinical experiments, the Johns Hopkins scientists injected cancerous tumor animals with bacteria that grow rapidly within oxygen-deprived solid tumor centers and die in healthy, oxygenated tissues. The researchers succeeded in getting bacteria to destroy tumors from the inside out, leaving an outer ring of cancer cells easily treatable with conventional treatments.
But in addition to achieving this, the researchers observed that in many cases, the bacterial infection "trained" the animals' immune systems to recognize the cancer and attack it. In 23 of the 70 animals used, the response capacity of their immune system destroyed the remains of the tumor, without the need to resort to another type of therapy. Even when the animals were injected with new cancer cells of the same type of cancer, their immune systems managed to identify, attack and destroy them, this time without receiving new injections of bacteria.
The scientists then experimented with mice and rats, observing the same type of result, so it could be a treatment applicable in the future to humans.