Killing cancer by unleashing the body’s own immune system

University of Missouri scientist demonstrates a new bacteria-based strategy for turning the body’s own immune system against cancer.

Jan. 22, 2021


Consiglio: The human body’s first line of defense against infections, like viruses or cancers, is the immune system. Prostate cancer, however, is highly immunosuppressive, meaning it can overpower or overwhelm the immune system, making most immunotherapy treatments unsuccessful.

Now, a researcher at the University of Missouri has created a strategy to assist the immune system in its mission to identify and destroy cancer. Assistant professor Yves Chabu and his team developed a bacteria that can infiltrate and colonize cancer tissue, which helps activate the immune system.

Chabu: “We genetically engineered a bacteria that can now go specifically into the cancer cells and force those cancer cells to release all these molecules that are inviting the immune cells to come into the cancer. By introducing the bacteria, now the immune system is able to come in to the cancer and actually kill the cancer.”

Consiglio: Chabu added that by activating the immune system, this immunotherapy approach can help prevent cancers from spreading to different parts of the body.

Chabu: “The beauty about it is you essentially build some immunity. If that same cancer spreads somewhere else in your body, your immune system can still find it and detect it and kill it.”

Consiglio: I’m Brian Consiglio, with a Spotlight on Mizzou.

Learn more about the research here

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