Hitting the Bone Cancer Bullseye

Friendly bacteria may better target bone cancer cells

(RxWiki News) Researchers at the University of Nottingham are testing a theory that a so-called friendly bacteria can be used to kill bone-cancer cells.

Osteosarcoma (OS) -- the most common type of primary bone cancer -- typically has a poor prognosis and mostly affects children and adolescents. Study leader Teresa Coughlan, M.D., said finding a treatment that targets cancer cells while leaving healthy cells in tact stands as the Holy Grail of bone-cancer research. Drugs are often given intravenously, using the body's venous system to reach their target. Bone tumours tend to have a low blood supply, however, rendering the treatments partially ineffective.

With that in mind, Coughlan and researchers hope to modify the bacteria Salmonella to act as a transporter for bone-cancer treatments. Researchers believe certain molecules (RNA interference molecules), when produced in the bacteria, will effectively destroy levels of cancer-causing molecules found in malignant cells.

Osteosarcoma is the third most common cancer in adolescence, affecting about 900 individuals, usually under age 30, each year in the United States. Of those, about 1/3 or 300 will die from the disease.