Bacteria that can help fight cancer

New York, June 9 (IANS) A toxin secreted by a water and food-borne bacterium that can cause lethal infections in persons with liver disease, has the potential to prevent the growth of tumours, says a new study by Northwestern Medicine scientists.

“A toxin protein from the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus can inhibit tumour cell growth by cutting the protein Ras,” researchers said.

“Ras is important for cell proliferation in cancer, so the toxin could potentially be developed as a treatment for different types of tumours,” said one of the researchers Karla Satchell, professor in microbiology-immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the US.

“The bacterium uses the MARTX (multifunctional-autoprocessing repeats-in-toxin) toxin protein to inactivate Ras, increasing its own virulence and allowing it to spread throughout the host,” the study said.

“It has been known that Ras has a role in cancer development and targeting Ras has been one of the hardest challenges of cancer research and drug discovery,” Satchell said.

The findings appeared in the journal Nature Communications.

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