Bacteria in the treatment of cancer

Curr Opin Mol Ther. 2004 Dec;6(6):629-39.


Incidental observations of cancer regression following spontaneous bacterial infection have led to the preclinical development of bacteria as potential therapeutics in the treatment of cancer. A variety of natural and gene-modified bacterial species have now been explored as potential cancer treatments. The selectivity of bacterial species towards cancer will be discussed, direct bacterial oncolytic activity will be summarized and the use of bacteria as gene and/or protein delivery vehicles will be described. Preclinical and early clinical results presented indicate a high safety profile and demonstrate clear anticancer activity, thereby justifying further investigation of bacteria as a therapeutic approach in the treatment of cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / administration & dosage*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / therapeutic use*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Genetic Vectors / administration & dosage
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Genetic Vectors / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Neoplasms / therapy


  • DNA, Bacterial