Bacteriotherapy: understanding bacterial species specialization based on the established hallmarks of cancer


  • Anjali Pal Barnard College of Columbia University


The prognosis of many cancers has substantially improved through widely accepted therapeutic strategies such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and immunotherapy. However, cytotoxicity, reduced accessibility, inability to selectively target tissue, and drug resistance, among other downfalls of these traditional modes of treatment, make long-term survival and good quality of life difficult to achieve for cancer patients. The complementary or individual administration of bacteriotherapy has been shown to compensate for the deficiencies of traditional treatment. Broadly, qualities such as improved motility, capacity to thrive in aerobic and anaerobic conditions, secretion of toxins, and genetic modifiability allow for a wide range of therapeutic use. The bacterial genera most frequently used in the context of cancer treatment are Clostridium, Bifidobacterium, and Salmonella. I will discuss these three bacterial genera alongside several others used in cancer bacteriotherapy, and I will highlight their therapeutic advantages according to the different hallmarks of cancer that they address using the established ‘hallmarks of cancer’ devised by Hannahan and Weinberg. Ultimately I argue that species specialization is a promising therapeutic avenue to treat different cancers.






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