Cancer research: What’s exciting the experts?

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IN the second part of our “what’s exciting the experts” series, Medical News Today spoke with another group of cancer experts.

We asked them what recent advances have given them the most hope. Here, we provide a sneak peek at the fascinating forefront of cancer research in 2021.

Cancer is not a single disease but a collection of diseases. It is complex and does not readily give up its secrets. Despite the challenges cancer poses, scientists and clinicians continue to hone the way in which they diagnose and treat it.

Modern medicine means that diagnosis rates for many cancers are up, as are survival rates. However, with an estimated 19.3 million new cases of cancer worldwide in 2020, there is still much work to be done.

MNT recently contacted a number of medical experts and researchers and asked them to speak about the aspects of cancer research that they find most exciting. Their answers are fascinating and demonstrate the incredible variety of approaches that scientists are using to understand and combat cancer.

We will start today’s journey into cutting edge oncology with a surprising guest: magnetically responsive bacteria.

“Due to the difficulty of targeting systemically delivered therapeutics for cancer, interest has grown in exploiting biological agents to enhance tumor accumulation,” explained Prof. Simone Schürle-Finke, Ph.D., from ETH Zurich in Switzerland.

In other words, getting cancer drugs to the right place is not as straightforward as one might hope. Prof. Schürle-Finke is among the researchers who are now enlisting the help of specialized bacteria.

She told MNT how scientists have known for “a century” that certain bacteria can colonize tumors and trigger regression. She explained that today, thanks to modern genetic engineering techniques, attenuated bacteria are available that can have a therapeutic effect exactly where this is necessary.

These therapeutic effects include “secretion of toxins, competition for nutrients, and modulation of immune responses.”

To address these challenges, her team at ETH Zurich is using magnetically responsive bacteria.