Caister Academic Press

Salmonella as the paradigm for bacterial therapy of cancer: A progress report

Robert M. Hoffman
from: Salmonella: From Genome to Function (Edited by: Steffen Porwollik). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2011)


For over 300 years it has been observed that cancer patients who became infected with bacteria sometimes experienced spontaneous remission of their cancer. Recently, there have been attempts to develop cancer treatments by using tumor-targeting bacteria. Anaerobic microorganisms, such as Clostridium, that preferentially grow in necrotic tumor areas have mostly been used. However, the resulting tumor killing was, at best, limited. Salmonella was originally developed as an antitumor agent by attenuating the bacteria with multiple mutations, including auxotrophs. These multiple auxotrophs appeared to direct the bacteria to the metastatic areas of tumors where more nutrients are available. We have developed a more effective bacterial cancer therapy strategy by targeting viable tumor tissue with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium containing only two auxotrophic mutations. These auxotrophs grow in viable as well as necrotic areas of tumors. However, the auxotrophy severely restricts growth of these bacteria in normal tissue, making this a safe treatment. The S. Typhimurium A1-R mutant, which is auxotrophic for leucine and arginine and had been selected for high antitumor virulence, was effective as monotherapy against human prostate and breast tumors that had been orthotopically implanted in nude mice. The approach described here, where bacterial monotherapy effectively treats primary and metastatic tumors, is a significant improvement over previous bacterial tumor-therapy strategies that require combination with toxic chemotherapy. Exploitation of the tumor-killing capability of Salmonella has great potential for a new paradigm of cancer therapy.

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