A2: Microbes in the News – Scientists turn food poisoning microbe into powerful cancer fighter

Scientists turn food poisoning microbe into powerful cancer fighter

Source: Science Mag


Date Published: 2/8/17

Summary: Researchers have modified Salmonella bacteria to trigger a immune response against human cancer cells that were implanted in mice. The bacteria was able to shrink the tumors and prevent them from metastasizing. The researchers took a harmless version of Salmonella typhimurium and genetically modified it to secrete a protein known as FlaB. They injected the modified Salmonella into 20 mice with human colon cancer and after 120 days the tumors were undetectable in 11 of the 20 mice.

Connection: We have been talking in class about how our bodies identify and attack foreign invaders. This article connects on how cancer isn’t identified as a foreign invader and discusses one option that is being explored in getting the body to activate the immune system to identify and attack cancer.

Critical Analysis: One thing I found interesting in this article is that after 3 days of the rats being injected, the researchers found that the mice had cleared the bacteria from their livers, lungs, and spleens, but the tumorous tissue in their colons were still crawling with Salmonella. I think this article did a good job of communicating science to the public because they talked a little about the previous study that inspired this one. It also did a great job of briefly explaining the experiment and how it was done.

Question: They said that it appeared FlaB activates a secondary molecule called TLR5 that makes the immune cells more aggressive, but how and why does FlaB activate TLR5 more easily than other molecules or proteins?