While most people know that salmonella causes food poisoning, researchers from the University of Minnesota believe the bacteria may be valuable in fighting certain cancers.
According to scientists, animal trials have shown that salmonella can successfully control tumors in organs around the abdomen where the bacteria naturally infects the body such as the liver, spleen and colon.
The key, according to Edward Greeno, the lead researcher and medical director of the Masonic Cancer Clinic, is finding a way to deliver salmonella to a patient without making them sick. To do so, Greeno said a colleague developed a genetically modified batch of the bacteria to weaken it and added Interlueken 2, which can trigger an immune system response to cancerous cells. Human trials are currently being conducted at the University of Minnesota.
While Greeno said the treatment probably won't replace traditional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation, it could eventually be a cheaper and less toxic alternative.
A colon cancer diagnosis will likely increase life insurance rates, as the National Cancer Institute reports it is the second deadliest form of the disease in the country. Liver cancer also came in at No. 8, even though the Mayo Clinic reports that until recently the ailment was uncommon in the U.S.