Swansea University

Using bacteria to treat cancer

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.  

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