Bacterial ‘Syringe’ Could Lead to Brand New Cancer Therapies – DNyuz

Bacterial ‘Syringe’ Could Lead to Brand New Cancer Therapies

It should go without saying by now: You should get your shots. However, your traditional syringe only goes so far. Sometimes, it’s helpful to get an even more precise inoculation on a cellular level. This injection may open the door to new and more efficient biomedical treatments such as gene therapy or cancer.

In a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, researchers developed a bacterial “syrigine” that’s capable of injecting proteins directly into cultured human and mouse cells. This technique uses bacteria’s ability to interact with cells in order to inject a wide range of proteins.

The study’s authors, who hail from MIT, specifically modified a bacterial protein that’s more typically found targeting insects called the Photorhabdus virulence cassette (PVC), which is named for the bacterium Photorhabdus asymbiotica. While this bacteria is deadly for different species of insect larvae and used as a pesticide, it’s relatively harmless in humans. The latest research builds on previous research which showed that PVCs could be used to deliver protein into non-human cell.

“[We] demonstrated the application of PVCs as delivery tools in diverse contexts, such as in the specific killing of cancer cells or as mediators of genome editing, and we showed that the system operates as intended in insect cells, human cells, primary cells, and in live mice,” the authors wrote.

They added that PVCs are a “versatile class of programmable protein delivery tools that are well-suited for use in a variety of applications ranging from biocontrol to human gene therapy.”

To develop the syringe, the researchers utilized AlphaFold, the powerful AI program from Google used to predict suitable protein structures. They then identified Photorhabdus and re-engineered it in order to inject proteins into human cells in petri dishes. This suggests that it could one day be used to help deliver treatments directly into human cells. Proteins could also be used to deliver antibodies directly into cancer cells via nanoscale carriers.

The beauty about PVCs is both how versatile and efficient it is. Not only can it be customized depending on the kind of cargo or treatment it’ll deliver, but the Nature study found that it can target human and mice cells with “efficiencies approaching 100 percent.”

So we could see the rise of bacteria syringes being used as a part of crucial therapies one day. Unfortunately, the rest of us will still have to deal with the dread of needles for our vaccines.

The post Bacterial ‘Syringe’ Could Lead to Brand New Cancer Therapies appeared first on The Daily Beast.