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How Salmonella Can Treat Brain Cancer

By Nikhil Mehta, 9:00 am on

New research shows the Salmonella bacterium may have a positive use. Scientists have found that the bacterium, which is widely avoided because it causes food poisoning, may be effective in the treatment of an aggressive form of brain cancer. Palm Desert elder home care experts discuss the research.

A Breakthrough at Duke University

Over the last few years, biomedical engineers at Duke University have harnessed the power of bacteria to combat brain cancer. This team believes they can help clinicians who are attempting to treat a unique strain of cancer known as glioblastoma. While human trials have not yet begun, initial tests revealed that certain strains of Salmonella could potentially pass the blood-brain barrier and neutralize the tumors. 

Why Treatments Have Failed in the Past

Even when it is caught early, brain cancer is challenging to treat. This is because surgeons are often apprehensive about removing cancerous cells because a single mistake could permanently incapacitate the individual. The second major hurdle is the blood-brain barrier. Unlike cancerous cells in other parts of the body, it is impossible for most chemical treatments to bypass the blood-brain barrier after being injected into the bloodstream. 

A Look at Bacterium Salmonella Typhimurium

Most of us know of Salmonella as the substance that causes food poisoning, but this strain of bacteria could actually be very useful to doctors. After a specific protein is removed from the cells, they begin to hunt down new sources of energy. The research team at Duke University discovered glioblastoma tumors produce and release the same kind of protein Salmonella cells need to survive. 

Attacking Cancer with Bacteria

The initial trials conducted on rats increased their lifespan by as much as 100 days, which is the equivalent of almost 10 human years. While this might not seem like much, most individuals who are diagnosed with glioblastoma have a life expectancy of just 5 years. Biomedical engineers at Duke University have said their next goal is to further modify the Salmonella cells and enhance their ability to hunt down and destroy cancer cells.

If you have a senior loved one with brain cancer or another disorder and would like help with taking care of him or her, get in touch with Home Care Assistance. We provide professional respite and live-in care. Palm Desert families can call a Care Manager at (760) 345-0001 to learn about our professional home care services.