More breakthrough discoveries are coming forth from the field of canine cancer research, as scientists have potentially discovered the most effective solution to dealing with tumors in dogs and humans.
According to new research, scientists have found another form of treating cancer – a mutant type of a bacterium that seems to be an aggressive and precise killer of malignant tumors. It also appears that it is a lively activator of the body’s immune system.
The bacterium Clostridium novyi lives in soil, and flourishes in environments with low oxygen levels. Scientists injected the spores of a weakened form of the bacterium into the soft-tissue tumors of 16 dogs and 1 human. The results were astounding!
Results and methods of the study
Within a matter of minutes after injecting participants of the study with the spores, researchers observed fever, abscesses, and pain at the injection site which are all signs that the immune system had begun targeting the area.
Within a few hours, the bacterial spores had already found their way into the tumors’ necrotic cores and had begun replicating like mad. In fact, the spores actually killed the malignant tumor in a few of the cases.
In three out of the 16 dogs that were treated, the tumors completely disappeared and the animals were cured.
In three of the other dogs, the bacterium shrank the tumors by 30 percent or more. The test was also performed in a 53-year-old woman with myosarcoma, a cancer located in the connective tissue, which previously did not respond to any other form of traditional treatment. Scientists injected one of her metastatic tumors with Clodstridium novyi, and they recorded results of “extensive tumor reduction.”
The human patient also had a large tumor that was wrapped around her shoulder and her upper arm. When they injected that tumor directly with the bacterium spores, the results seemed to be very promising, according to researchers.
Although the woman developed a low-grade fever, and had to be put on intravenous pain medication for about three weeks, the tumor did stop growing, and the bacteria kept eating away at the necrotic tissue.
Further research of tumors in dogs and people
Future clinical trials that researchers will be proceeding with are to be performed at eight different testing sites across the United States.
The early clinical trials of the bacteriologic cancer therapy will first begin on volunteers with solid malignant tumors of any kind, and the volunteers must have been treated already with at least one typical cancer medication. They also must have no other options for curative therapy.
Experts in the field of cancer research are both excited and nervous for the new testing to begin.
They caution that there are severe safety concerns that will need to be addressed. Prompting bacterial infections in a patient of any species is very tricky business.
Activating the vigorous immune system response could rally the disease-fighting powers to the site of the cancer, but it could also kill the patient. There will be a fine line to walk between harnessing the healing power of the treatment and minimizing its toxicity.
The study, which experimented on mice before it began testing on canines, was reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Authors of the study did note that the research will need to be approached with a great deal of caution, and more experimenting is necessary.
It appears that the field of cancer immunotherapy, or the treatment of cancer by inducing a response from the immune system, is definitely proving to have worth. If scientists can develop more research and the treatment progresses, it will surely be another great weapon in the ever-expanding arsenal to fight cancer.
- Roberts NJ et al. Intratumoral injection of Clostridium novyi-NT spores induces antitumor responses. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Aug 13;6(249):249ra111. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3008982