Researchers have found a way to fight tumors with magnetic bacteria

Why we are writing on this topic:

Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Fortunately, extensive research is being done on the disease, slowly changing the way we approach and treat various types of tumors. This discovery is a prime example. This is why Innovation Origins selected this article.

Researchers at ETH Zurich are using magnetic bacteria to fight cancerous tumours. They have now found a way for these microorganisms to efficiently cross the walls of blood vessels and then colonize a tumor, writes the university in a Press release.

Scientists around the world are studying how cancer drugs can more effectively reach the tumors they target. One possibility is to use engineered bacteria as “bins” to transport drugs through the blood to tumors. Researchers at ETH Zurich have now succeeded in controlling certain bacteria so that they can effectively cross the wall of blood vessels and infiltrate tumor tissue.

Bacterial cancer therapy

In cell cultures and mice, Simone Schürle and her team have now shown that a rotating magnetic field applied to the tumor improves the ability of bacteria to cross the vascular wall near the cancerous growth. Using experiments and computer simulations, researchers at ETH Zurich were able to show that propelling bacteria using a rotating magnetic field is effective for three reasons.

First, propulsion via a rotating magnetic field is ten times more powerful than propulsion via a static magnetic field. The latter only sets the direction and the bacteria must move under their power. The second and most critical reason is that the bacteria driven by the rotating magnetic field are constantly in motion, moving along the vascular wall. This makes them more likely to encounter the spaces that briefly open between cells of the vascular wall compared to other types of propulsion, in which the movement of the bacteria is less exploratory. And third, unlike other methods, the bacteria do not need to be tracked by imaging. Once the magnetic field is positioned over the tumor, it does not need to be readjusted.

“We also use the natural, autonomous locomotion of bacteria,” explains Schürle. “Once the bacteria have crossed the blood vessel wall and are in the tumor, they can independently migrate deep into its interior.” For this reason, scientists use propulsion via the external magnetic field for just one hour – long enough for the bacteria to efficiently cross the vessel wall and reach the tumor.


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