Recruiting Anthrax to Oncology

In the latest development in trying to use Bacillus anthracis to kill cancer, researchers send “antibody mimics” inside tumor cells.

kerry grens
Kerry Grens

Kerry served as The Scientist’s news director until 2021. Before joining The Scientist in 2013, she was a stringer for Reuters Health, the senior health and science reporter at...

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WIKIMEDIA, VOLKER BRINKMANNThe exceptional ability for the anthrax bacterium (Bacillus anthracis) to inject its toxin into host cells has made it an appealing Trojan horse for cancer therapies. In the latest advance, Bradley Pentelute of MIT and his colleagues piggybacked two so-called antibody mimics that target cancer-causing proteins onto the anthrax toxin to sneak them into cancer cells. “Anthrax toxin is a professional at delivering large enzymes into cells,” Pentelute told MIT News.

“This work represents a prominent advance in the drug-delivery field,” Jennifer Cochran, an associate professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, told MIT News. “Given the efficient protein delivery Pentelute and colleagues achieved with this technology compared to a traditional cell-penetrating peptide, studies to translate these findings to in vivo disease models will be highly anticipated.”

Pentelute’s study, published in ChemBioChem this week (September 22), is not the first to look to anthrax for cancer...

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