Using Salmonella to Fight Brain Tumors

By Richard Hemmi, 9:00 am on

Glioblastoma is not only one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer, it is also one of the most complex types of cancer to treat. Even when the tumors are caught early, it is not easy to surgically remove them without causing damage to the nearby soft tissue. Researchers at Duke University have recently discovered that a strain of Salmonella could be the key to finally treating this disease. Cleveland West, OH, in-home elder care professionals bring you more information about this research.

The Magic of Microbes

One of the reasons brain cancer is difficult to treat is because most chemicals cannot pass the blood-brain barrier. This natural shield prevents certain molecules from damaging the brain, and very few substances can naturally pass through the barrier. After altering the genetic makeup of bacterium Salmonella typhimurium, the Duke University research team found it was able to move through the blood-brain barrier and attack the tumors. 

Altering Salmonella

Salmonella is commonly known as the bacteria that causes food poisoning. When a certain type of protein is removed from the bacteria, however, the cells immediately begin searching for new sources of energy. Glioblastoma tumors contain the protein the bacteria thrives on, and the cancer cells seem to self-destruct as soon as they no longer have enough protein. 

A Look at the Numbers

Using the modified bacterium Salmonella typhimurium, researchers were able to extend the average lifespan of rats with brain tumors by over 100 days, which is roughly equivalent to 10 human years. While this might not seem like a very optimistic prognosis, it would nearly double the average lifespan of those who have aggressive brain cancer. According to Duke University, the next step is to alter the bacteria to further enhance its cancer-fighting properties.

If your loved one had been diagnosed with brain cancer and you would like more updates on this research, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We provide 24-hour and respite home care. Cleveland, OH, families can rely on our dedicated caregivers to help their senior loved ones age in place with dignity. Call a Care Manager at (440) 455-4031 to learn how our compassionate caregivers can boost our clients’ emotional, cognitive, and physical wellbeing.