April 13/Cork, England/The Mirror -- Eating yogurts can prolong the life of cancer sufferers, Irish scientists have discovered. The breakthrough at University College Cork (UCC) found bacteria in probiotic yogurts can deliver gene therapies to treat the disease.
A research team at the Cork Cancer Research Centre showed the bacteria is a safe and effective way to treat cancer. Dr Mark Tangney, principal investigator at Cork Cancer Research Centre, UCC said, "The main goal of cancer treatment is to focus therapy on tumors without harming healthy cells.
"Current chemotherapy drugs administered are toxic to many healthy cell types, often resulting in severe side effects for the patient. This is why we are so excited.
"We have demonstrated for the first time that following ingestion of bifidobacteria in large numbers, these harmless bacteria can leak out from the gut into the blood and grow inside tumors where they can produce whatever we want.
"We can now genetically engineer these bacteria so that they will pump out anticancer agents inside tumors."
Cancer is predicted to overtake heart disease as the main killer in the developed world.
Noriyuki Kasahara, president of the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy of Cancer, said, "The work being done at Cork Cancer Research Centre at UCC is certainly at the cutting edge of science.
"No one has ever shown before that you can take an orally administered safe bacteria and have it hone into a tumor mass before and act there."
Enda Connolly, Health Research Board chief executive, said the discovery is vital to improving cancer care. He added, "Turning this type of discovery into a reality is where our future lies.
From the April 26, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition