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unswsydney OP t1_jc5iic1 wrote

Afternoon r/science! A team of UNSW and Garvan Institute researchers have found that introducing bacteria to a tumour’s microenvironment creates a state of acute inflammation that triggers the immune system’s primary responder cells to attack rather than protect a tumour.

The research could lead to better treatments to improve outcomes for people with advanced or previously untreatable cancers.

The work has been published in the journal Cancer Research, and is available to read here:


barryman5000 t1_jc5mrlp wrote

So we are getting back to Coley's Toxins?

It was a rather neat approach that I'm not sure ever got studied correctly. Coley never did a proper study and the idea of injecting anybody with bacteria that made them sick when radiation therapy was showing consistent results really killed any further research.


Fixing_The_World t1_jc5njwq wrote

Thank you for sharing.

Taking it a step further, panels of common bacteria could be displayed to a sample of the patient's immune system. We could figure out which elicit the strongest response. Then use the antigens for tumor injection.

What they have done in the paper is a phenomenal idea and so simple.


Kiflaam t1_jc5xpix wrote

I remember hearing about injecting the cold virus into tumors back in like 2010. How is this different?


CultCrossPollination t1_jc5ypvm wrote

Thanks for calling the originally described hypothesis/context. The use of microbes is nothing new, see also oncolytic viruses. The main difference is that we currently know a lot more about cancer and the importance of the interplay with the immune system. So I am still curious to see what further research this might bring, and if we can improve current strategies. Although I am also careful for enhancing innate inflammation.


MarcusForrest t1_jc60wty wrote

Cold Virus is a Virus, this is from Bacteria


(Also, IIRC the Cold Virus one was only related to Skin Cancer, so very specific)


According to this study, they basically changed the behaviour of Neutrophils (a type of white blood cell that helps against infection) - while they usually and unfortunately promote cancer growth, in this case, they managed to change the behaviour to perform the opposite!


BuddhaBizZ t1_jc6ke9u wrote

So basically we have to give cancer a headache?


breigns2 t1_jc6r467 wrote

Forcing the government to do something about domestic terrorists by making them host foreign ones.


This_is_a_monkey t1_jc6y4o9 wrote

I remember years ago reading an account of a monk who had a tumour on his leg that grew so large it burst through the skin and became infected. Then his immune system destroyed the infection along with the tumour. Was very interesting.


nik-nak333 t1_jc6zzq0 wrote

Cynical me can't wait for big pharma to put this type of procedure behind a ridiculous paywall or ensure it fails FDA testing or something equally shady


IllustriousLP t1_jc7cvb9 wrote

Thanks for posting. I have a rare cancer called sarcoma , makes me want to ask my oncologist about this. I am on keytruda and this immunotherapy drug is very effective. Destroying all the tumors that recently formed in my lungs.


synackSA t1_jc7j9k9 wrote

I'm just a general person on the streets here, so forgive me if my understanding of things isn't 100%. Since this line of treatment focuses on the immune systems reaction, I was wondering what some possible side effects we could see from the way the cancer cells react to the bacteria? Are there any possibilities of it mutating the bacteria at all?


sten45 t1_jc7rsnt wrote

ve cancer is afraid of MRSA


who519 t1_jc7soms wrote

This isn't really true, if a pharma company created a cure for cancer it would make them an insane amount of money because it would be universally used with no competition. As it is now, cancer treatment is full of competition. This conspiracy theory doesn't really play out. A more likely conspiracy theory, if a pharma company created a cure would be that company investing in marketing sectors that cause cancer, tobacco, alcohol etc...because then they be creating their own customers.


EntropyMilk t1_jc7wbgp wrote

Not really, cancer in its simplest terms is a cell that is infinitely growing (through mitosis) because of a breakdown of the cell’s “checkpoints” that inhibit uncontrolled growth.

Now I’m not a microbiologist, but Bacteria are likely too simple to ever “get cancer” or be meaningfully changed by it outside of the path they take through the body, or the immediate immune response around the tumor.

Bacteria is much more likely to opportunistically infect sites of cell damage around cancer as it’s being treated.


Firegoalie20 t1_jc80e6g wrote

I see tons of articles posted to this subreddit about new breakthroughs in cancer treatment but I never see any of it actually used to fight cancer. I just would like to know when these treatments make it to bedsides as a norm.


Helenium_autumnale t1_jc80o3o wrote

This seems huge. I hope we can progress from this discovery to a treatment protocol.


SupremelyUneducated t1_jc8443r wrote

Does this mean people living in urban environments would have more issues with cancer, than those living in forested rural environments? Assuming diet, exercise and what not are relatively the same. And because of more exposure to the bacteria in healthy/aerobic dirt.


halfchemhalfbio t1_jc87wi0 wrote

I actually have a story to tell about this. I have read a grant about Coley’s toxin but the professor is so old, he hand drawn his grant figures. I bet to covert that to pdf is also a great challenge for the person. It is very interesting idea though. It actually went into clinical trial in the 90s but just an IV injection.


4CatDoc t1_jc885j1 wrote

Rub some dirt in it? Will that counter the 'Tussin?


ksidney26 t1_jc88a8w wrote

Next just get a bunch of bees to sting the tumor directly


NOAEL_MABEL t1_jc8g7b9 wrote

This isn’t new, in fact, I believe the very first types of ‘cell therapies’ go as far back as the Egyptians when they noticed that tumors would shrink if you took pus and injected into a tumor. Of course the person died from sepsis, but it has been known for a long time that bacteria home towards the hypoxia environment in tumors and have anti-cancer properties. In fact, if you google hard enough you’ll find many companies out there who are pursuing this idea with genetically engineered live microbes for cancer treatments.


kwenronda t1_jc8k5rq wrote

So it’s kind of like putting a noticeable infection inside a not-so-noticeable infection to cause the body to finally notice?


cygnoids t1_jc8nhb5 wrote

My assumption is you need to balance stimulating the immune system and causing a severe infection. I need to read the paper to see if it was full bacterial lysate or if you could take some PAMPs to stimulate an immune response


Fixing_The_World t1_jc9i1in wrote

I suspect you could.

However, while a lysate is different, co-infections don't always have an additive effect when it comes to the immune system. One infection can actually dampen another. It could be quite different with inactive antigens though.

Injecting that many different antigens could also cause immune system derangement ending in autoimmunity &/or cancer escape.

Lastly, from a data collection stand point, trying to figure out which lysate/antigen causes high adverse reactions in a mix would be much harder than collecting data on individual types.

This would all have to be tested of course to gain any knowledge on the manner; it is just what came across my head.


idispensemeds2 t1_jcenjsw wrote

This is not novel at all, and not feasible from an oncology perspective. PD-L1 and CTLA4 are badass drugs with awesome immune mediation with limited other effects. Let's support what we have, instead of coming up with ridiculous ideas. There is not enough data about this class of drugs, and it NEEDS to be researched because it's possible that immunotherapy is cheaper and more effective than chemotherapy but unfortunately it's only studied in late stage/refractory cancers or tried in melanoma where immunoglobulins are known to be effective. Anyway, let's research what matters and not this stupid BS.