Bugs beat cancer

Self-destructing bacteria that synthesize anticancer drugs and then burst open to release their payload when they reach a tumor have been developed by researchers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA. The approach which shows some of the promise of so-called "synthetic biology" could offer a therapeutic approach that minimizes damage to surrounding cells. Team leader Jeff Hasty wondered if a genetic “kill” circuit could be engineered to control a population of bacteria in vivo, thus minimizing their growth. “We wanted to deliver a significant therapeutic payload to the disease site,” he says.