Bacteria and Viruses as Cancer Treatments

Over a hundred years ago William B Coley, the “Father of Immunotherapy”, discovered that injection of bacteria or bacterial toxins into tumors could cause those tumors to shrink. The introduction of bacteria had the side-effect of stimulating the immune system to attack the tumor. The field of cancer immunotherapy research—which today includes many different approaches for generating anti-tumor immune responses—originated with these early experiments.

Use of bacteria is one way to stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells, others include use of cytokines, immune checkpoint blockades and vaccines. This Nature animation provides a simple overview of these methods.

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“Baby, you have the dreamiest antibodies…”

There’s likely a percentage of the readers of this blog who, if presented with a photo montage of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Daniel Craig, Denzel Washington, Ryan Gosling and other celebrity heartthrobs, might have to take a moment (or several) just to sit back, breathe deeply and appreciate the view. And who could blame us? They’re manly men, all. Easy on the eyes, fairly dripping with testosterone, make our hearts go pitter-pat, maybe make our loins jump just a little with subconscious fantasies of beautiful Clooney babies. What? It’s only natural! It’s biology!

But a recent research effort, published in the February 21 edition of the journal Nature Communications, asserts that our twitterpation (or Brad Pitterpation, as it were) may not be so much for these guys’ handsome faces, strong jawlines, broad shoulders, six-pack abs, that spot in the crook of their neck that probably smells really good…

*sigh*
*batting eyelashes*

Sorry, got distracted there for a second. No, it might not be their looks that we’re really lusting after, but their…robust immune systems? Their drop-dead sexy antibodies? Continue reading