Bacteria Protect Cancer from Chemotherapy

In the picture there are bacteria fluorescing in green inside of a pancreatic cancer cell.
Figure 1: Bacteria, in green, inside a pancreatic cancer cell (picture from Yong, 2017 , picture by Leore Geller)

Background:

Between the years of 2010 and 2014 2,910,588 people died of cancer in the United States despite our best efforts to fight cancer with methods like chemotherapy and surgery (Howlader et al., 2017). While there are many reasons why cancers might prevail over our best efforts, a relatively common reason is the devolvement of chemotherapy resistance (Housman et al., 2014). This resistance can come in many forms; ranging from drug inactivation to changing the target site of the drug. In an attempt to combat resistance, chemotherapy drugs have been given out in cocktails containing multiple drugs that all work in a different way in the hope of killing all the resistant cells at once. This method was based off of the theory that while the mechanisms of resistance are known to be complex, the resistance always stems from cancer cells themselves. However this theory has been challenged in the last few years with the discovery that cancer cells could be protected from chemotherapy drugs by the normal cells (stroma) around the cancer cells (Feig et al., 2012; Klemm and Joyce, 2015). Continue reading “Bacteria Protect Cancer from Chemotherapy”