Colorectal cancer is any cancer which affects the colon and rectum. It is the third most common cancer worldwide and its incidence is anticipated to rise in the coming years. A research was directed to kill cancer cells in the gut by allowing them to take up an anticancer agent. This was regulated by Dr. Chun-Loong Ho and has been published recently in the journal of Nature Biomedical Engineering.
The main element of this cancer-targeting system is an engineered form of a harmless species of bacteria found in the gut, known as E.coli Nissle. The bacteria were engineered genetically into a probiotic that binds to the surface of colorectal cancer cells. On binding, an enzyme is secreted and converts a substance found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli into a potent anticancer agent.
Above 95% colorectal cancer cells were eliminated by the concoction of the engineered probiotics with a broccoli extract or water which contained dietary substances. However, this mixture showed no impact on other kinds of cancer cells such as stomach or breast cancer.
In this research, the probiotic and vegetable fusion decreased the number of tumors in mice with colorectal cancer by 75%. Moreover, the tumors in these mice were three times smaller in comparison with the control mice which were not fed this mixture.
The research team suggests that these probiotics could serve dual purposes that are, prevention of colorectal cancer and removal of residual cancer cells following chemoradiotherapy or surgery.
The team hopes that soon patients with colorectal cancer may take these probiotics as dietary supplements along with consuming cruciferous vegetables to prevent colorectal cancer or to slow down relapse rates followed by surgery.