What Doesn’t Kill You . . .

We’re usually taught that bacteria are bad for you, that it can make you sick and sometimes even kill you. From an early age, we are constantly told to wash our hands to get all the icky germs off. Nowadays, you can hardly get hand soap that doesn’t have antibacterial ingredients promising to “kill 99.9% of germs.” So imagine my surprise when I come across an article claiming that bacteria in the soil are being used for treatment . . . of cancer.

Researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom have been studying the effects of a common bacteria strain on cancerous tumors. This bacteria, known as Clostridium sporogenes, seems to be able to slowly kill cancer cell when injected into these tumors. An anti-cancer drug is inserted in after the bacteria, which activate the drug, killing only the cancer cells. Because C. sporogenes evolved in ancient times when the atmosphere had very little oxygen, the bacteria can survive in places with extremely low oxygen levels, such as the center of a tumor. The bacteria draw in what little oxygen there is, depleting the tumors supply, so it begins to die.

Clostridium sporogenes are naturally sporulating, allowing them to only be active in necrotic tissue. This means that it will only kill this tissue and leave all the healthy parts of the body alone, unlike chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which do not discriminate between healthy and tumorous cells. Surprisingly enough, some of the cousins of C. sporogenes cause some serious diseases in humans, such as botulism, tetanus, and gas gangrene. Yet this bacteria only causes one thing: life.

What will this mean for the future of cancer treatment? What will this mean for the future treatment of other diseases? Will this treatment work for other illnesses?

One thought on “What Doesn’t Kill You . . .

  1. People think that bacteria is always bad for you, and it will make you sick. That’s always what I have been told since I was little. I had no idea that it could do good instead of bad because now I have learned it kills cancer cells. People would never know that bacteria is actually good for you because all hand soap and hand sanitizer says that it kills 99.9% of bacteria. Maybe that is why so many people these days are dying of cancer. Bacteria agents could be the cure that save millions. According to Science Daily, they are trying new treatments besides radiotherapy and chemotherapy and have discovered that bacteria break down the tumors making them the ideal treatments to deliver anti-cancer treatments.

    Society for General Microbiology. “Bacteria Successful In Cancer Treatment.” ScienceDaily, 5 Sep. 2007. Web. 7 Mar. 2012.

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