Successful Bacterium Engineering by Scientists Used to Treat Mouse Cancer

Successful Bacterium Engineering by Scientists Used to Treat Mouse Cancer

Researchers at Stanford Medicine have made a promising discovery that could lead to new cancer treatments in the future. Scientists conducted tests in which they altered the genomes of skin-based microbes and bacteria to fight cancer. These altered microbes were swabbed onto cancer-stricken mice and, lo and behold, tumors began to dissipate.

The bacteria in question, Staphylococcus epidermidis, was grabbed from the fur of mice and altered to produce a protein that stimulates the immune system with regard to specific tumors. The experiment seemed to be a resounding success, with the modified bacteria killing aggressive types of metastatic skin cancer after being gently applied to the fur. The results were also achieved without any noticeable inflammation.

“It seemed almost like magic,” said Michael Fischbach, PhD, an associate professor of bioengineering at Stanford. “These mice had very aggressive tumors growing on their flank, and we gave them a gentle treatment where we simply took a swab of bacteria and rubbed it on the fur of their heads.

This is yet another foray into the misunderstood world of microbiomes and all of the bacteria that reside there. Gut biomes get all of the press these days, but the skin also plays host to millions upon millions of bacteria, fungi and viruses, and the purpose of these entities is often unknown.

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