Research at Swansea University Medical School has shown that Salmonella could be used to create better cancer treatments.
Unlike chemotherapy and radiotherapy, these treatments would be non-toxic and would target only the tumour (leaving healthy tissue unaffected) and could require only one dose. The technology at the heart of the approach is called RNAi, a natural process that cells use to turn down, or silence, the activity of specific genes.
Professor Paul Dyson, who is leading this work, has previously used this technology to develop a pesticide-free weapon against insects that cause sleeping sickness and damage crops.
In the next phase, the team will test whether bacterial strains can be combined to target the different cancer-causing genes (“oncogenes”) in different types of cancer including breast cancer and colorectal cancer.