Facultative or obligate anaerobic bacteria have the potential for multimodality therapy of solid tumours

Ming Q. Wei, Kay A.O. Ellem, Paul Dunn, Malcolm J. West, Chun Xue Bai, Bert Vogelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent understanding of the unique pathology of solid tumours has shed light on the difficult and disappointing nature of their clinical treatment. All solid tumours undergo angiogenesis that results in biological changes and adaptive metabolisms, i.e. formation of defective vessels, appearance of hypoxic areas, and emergence of an heterogeneous tumour cell population. This micro-milieu provides a haven for anaerobic bacteria. The strictly anaerobic clostridia have several advantages over other facultative anaerobes such as salmonella or lactic acid-producing, Gram-positive, obligate, anaerobic bifidobacteria. Both pathogenic and non-pathogenic clostridia have been demonstrated to specifically colonise and destroy solid tumours. Early trials of non-pathogenic strains in humans had shown plausible safety. Genetic modifications and adaptation of pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains have further created improved features. However, these manipulations rarely generate strains that resulted in complete tumour control alone. Combined modalities of therapies with chemo and radiation therapies, on the other hand, often perform better, including 'cure' of solid tumours in a high percentage of animals. Considering that clostridia have unlimited capacities for genetic improvement, we predict that designer clostridia forecast a promising future for the development of potent strains for tumour destruction, incorporating mechanisms such as immunotherapy to overcome immune suppression and to elicit strong anti-tumour responses. Crown

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-496
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Anaerobic bacteria
  • Bacterial spores
  • Cancer biology
  • Cancer therapy
  • Genetic engineering
  • Hypoxia
  • Immunotherapies
  • Necrosis
  • Oncolysis
  • Solid tumour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Facultative or obligate anaerobic bacteria have the potential for multimodality therapy of solid tumours'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this