WASHINGTON, DC-Researchers at Yale University and Vion Pharmaceuticals have found that strains of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium can live on nutrients found in malignant tumors in mice and create substances that inhibit those tumors. The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) reports that this microbially based approach to antitumor therapy, patented by Yale University and licensed to Vion Pharmaceuticals, is being adapted as a potential treatment for cancer patients.
Initial tests implanted mice with melanoma tumors. After one month, mice that had been treated with Salmonella strains had noticeably smaller tumors than the untreated mice. In addition, mice treated with the bacteria lived about 53 days, twice as long as the untreated mice.
Researchers have yet to discover how Salmonella locates a tumor and what nutrients in the tumor enable it to thrive.