Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.118, No.2, 513-530, 2021
New technologies in developing recombinant-attenuated bacteria for cancer therapy
Cancer has always been a global problem, with more cases of cancer patients being diagnosed every year. Conventional cancer treatments, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery, are still unable to bypass their obvious limitations, and developing effective targeted therapies is still required. More than one century ago, the doctor William B. Coley discovered that cancer patients had tumor regression by injection of Streptococcus bacteria. The studies of cancer therapy using bacterial microorganisms are now very widespread. In particular, the facultative anaerobic bacteria Salmonella typhimurium is widely investigated as it can selectively colonize different types of tumors, locally deliver various antitumor drugs, and inhibit tumor growth. The exciting antitumor efficacy and safety observed in animal tumor models prompted the well-known attenuated Salmonella bacterial strain VNP20009 to be tested in human clinical trials in the early 21st century. Regrettably, no patients showed significant therapeutic effects and even bacterial colonization in tumor tissue was undetectable in most patients. Salmonella bacteria are still considered as a promising agent or vehicle for cancer therapy. Recent efforts have been focused on the generation of attenuated bacterial strains with higher targeting for tumor tissue, and optimization of the delivery of therapeutic antitumor cargoes into the tumor microenvironment. This review will summarize new technologies or approaches that may improve bacteria-mediated cancer therapy.