Bifidobacterium longum as a delivery system for cancer gene therapy: selective localization and growth in hypoxic tumors

Cancer Gene Ther. 2000 Feb;7(2):269-74. doi: 10.1038/sj.cgt.7700122.


A fundamental obstacle in gene therapy for cancer is the specific delivery of an anticancer gene product to a solid tumor, and yet no systemic delivery system that specifically targets solid tumors currently exists. A strain of domestic bacteria, Bifidobacterium longum, which is nonpathogenic and anaerobic, selectively localized and proliferated in several types of mouse solid tumors after systemic application. In this report, we further describe a novel approach to cancer gene therapy in which genetically engineered Bifidobacterium is used as a tumor-specific vector. Similarly to wild-type B. longum, genetically engineered B. longum could be detected in tumor tissue only and was not found in a large survey of normal mouse tissues after intravenous injection. This finding strongly suggests that obligate anaerobic bacteria such as Bifidobacterium can be used as highly specific gene delivery vectors for cancer gene therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bifidobacterium / genetics*
  • Bifidobacterium / growth & development*
  • Bifidobacterium / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / microbiology
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / therapy*
  • Cell Hypoxia / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Melanoma, Experimental / genetics*
  • Melanoma, Experimental / microbiology
  • Melanoma, Experimental / pathology
  • Melanoma, Experimental / therapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Spectinomycin / metabolism


  • Spectinomycin