Engineering Bacterial Cancer Targeting (BCT) Therapy for the Clinic

Our genetically modified, non-pathogenic Salmonella specifically targets and persists in tumors but not in normal healthy cells.  We are improving the mechanisms by which Salmonella targets and kills tumors with minimal side effects.


Salmonella are being further genetically modified to serve as a delivery vehicle for chemotherapies that cannot specifically target tumors.  This BCT combination therapy will optimally destroy tumors with maximum efficiency but minimal side effects.  Our goal is to tailor the best match of combination therapy to the tumor’s genetic profile – to most efficiently destroy the tumor being targeted.


We are in the process of testing new anti-cancer compounds produced by the bacteria at the cancer site, as well as attaching molecular scaffolds on the surface of the bacteria that can be used to shuttle large numbers of nanoparticles and other therapeutic drugs to the cancer site.  These scaffolds can also be used to enhance the tumor targeting specificity of our bacteria as well as carry immune system activators that fight cancer’s ability to evade the patient’s immune system.  Clinical tests in prostate cancer mouse models are underway to test the effectiveness of these therapies.


We have developed selection methods for identifying small protein molecules (‘peptides’) that can specifically target different cancer tissue types.  We have identified 31 peptides specific for human prostate cancer cell lines to improve our targeting of prostate tumors.  Our eventual goal is to quickly produce peptides that specifically target any cancer tissue that we can biopsy from a patient, or better yet, find a targeting peptide that specifically attaches to a broad spectrum of cancer types.  These peptides will then be attached to our therapeutics for efficient delivery and concentration at the tumor site(s).


We are continuing collaborations with other cancer-fighting organizations including local organizations (the University of Missouri – Columbia, Immunophotonics) as well as scientific collaborations with colleagues in Oklahoma, California, Australia and China.  By combining our therapeutic efforts, we can see if our anti-cancer treatments are stronger when used together rather than alone.  All these efforts bring BCT therapy another step closer to successful clinical use.


Dr. Robert A. Kazmierczak

Senior Investigator, Cancer Research Center


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