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Hope for a New Treatment for Bone Cancer: Can 'Friendly' Bacteria Kill Cancer Cells?

Children and young people who are diagnosed with bone cancer could benefit from better treatment in the future, thanks to new research at The University of Nottingham.

The Bone Cancer Research Trust has launched Bone Cancer Awareness Week and has funded a new project at the University which is testing a theory that 'friendly bacteria' can be used to kill bone cancer cells.

Researchers at the School of Clinical Sciences' Division of Pre-Clinical Oncology are investigating whether modifying a harmless type of the bacterium, Salmonella typhimurium, can produce molecules which kill cancer cells in osteosarcoma, a primary bone cancer. The scientists are using a clinically safe form of the bacterium which has been found to localise to tumour tissue rather than healthy tissue.

Leading the research, Dr Teresa Coughlan, said: "Developing a treatment that effectively targets cancer cells, but doesn't damage healthy cells is the Holy Grail for bone cancer treatment. We are excited by this project as potentially it could result in a new treatment for osteosarcoma, which typically has a poor prognosis."

Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most common type of primary bone cancer and although rare, can be particularly distressing because it affects mostly children and adolescents. Cases tend to have a poor outlook because the cancer often does not respond well to the treatments currently available. There have been few new treatments for OS in the past 20 years and more research and techniques to fight it are urgently needed as more than 2,000 children and young people are diagnosed with the disease every year in the UK.
 
 

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