ANTHRAX toxin combined with a growth factor has been found to be effective in treating bladder cancer. Researchers at Purdue University developed a method to combine the toxin with a growth factor to destroy the cancer cells and tumour. The new method was tested on dogs, who had exhausted all other treatment options, and showed promising results: the size of the tumour was decreased without resultant side effects.
In the USA alone, 72,000 people develop bladder cancer each year, 16,000 of whom are killed by the cancer. The current treatment options are expensive and invasive: patients must sit for several hours while their bladder is full of a cancer-killing agent. The disease also has high recurrence rates. This new treatment method, developed by the Purdue team, works in minutes to target the cancer cells. The bladder’s protective layer stops the anthrax combination from destroying good cells, instead focussing on the cancerous cells and tumours.
“We have effectively come up with a promising method to kill the cancer cells without harming the normal cells in the bladder,” explained researcher R. Claudio Aguilar, Purdue University College of Science, West Lafayette, Indiana, continuing: “It is basically like creating a special solution that targets cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.”
“We have seen outstanding results with our treatment,” said Aguilar, concluding: “It is fast and effective, both of which are critical for people dealing with this devastating disease.” While the research was conducted on animals, the team believe that a similar treatment could be viable for both people and animals, as well as in other forms of cancer, including tumours of the skin and lungs.