Bacteria as colon cancer treatment

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) researchers in Singapore were able to utilize the dead form of Clostridium sporogenes, which is commonly found in soil, as well as its secretions, to successfully destroy colon cancer cells.

Lack of blood flow and reduced oxygen and nutrients in colon cancer tumor environments limits conventional cancer treatments, including radiation and chemo, in the colon. The reason for this is because these treatments rely heavily on oxygen to disable the cancer DNA. In addition, blood flow typically delivers the drugs to the tumor, but in the case of colon cancer, the lack of blood flow is a major obstacle.

Bacterial cancer therapy has the potential to overcome this problem; however, it has an increased infection and toxicity risk. Heat killed the bacteria in the NTU study to eliminate the chance of bacterial overgrowth beyond the recommended dose used to kill the cancer.

The researchers performed the experiments in 3-D cell culture (artificial environments, which resembled the human body). This is unique because most studies like this are performed with petri dishes.

The colon tumor cells growth were reduced by the inactive bacteria by 74% over a span of 72 hours.

In addition, the secretions the researchers cultured reduced the colon cancer cell growth by almost 83 percent.

The research team plans to observe the specific mechanisms of this bacteria that aid in eradicating tumor cells. Eventually, they may be developed into effective cancer treatments.

This finding potentially opens novel treatment for the third most common cancer in the world. Although research is in the early stages, this discovery is encouraging for future research.


Madhura Satish Bhave, Ammar Mansoor Hassanbhai, Padmaja Anand, Kathy Qian Luo, Swee Hin Teoh. Effect of Heat-Inactivated Clostridium sporogenes and Its Conditioned Media on 3-Dimensional Colorectal Cancer Cell Models. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 15681 DOI: 10.1038/srep15681

Nanyang Technological University. Dead bacteria used to kill colorectal cancerScienceDaily.

Leave a Reply