Mycobacterium in olive oil for cancer treatment

micobacterisResearchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) have revealed a way to effectively deliver a mycobacterium needed for the treatment of bladder cancer in humans –using a formulation based on olive oil.

The researchers have found a way to reduce the natural clumping that occurs when mycobacteria cells, which possess a high content of lipids in their walls, are introduced to the usual aqueous solutions that are used for intravesical instillation in bladder cancer patients. This clumping may interfere with the interaction of the mycobacteria-host cells and negatively influence their antitumor effects.

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After announcing their discovery last year that Mycobacterium brumae offers an improved alternative to existing bladder cancer treatments such as BCG, which can cause infections, the collaborators – led by Esther Julián at the UAB – have been looking for ways to improve the immunotherapeutic activity of M. brumae. To do this, they’ve been designing different emulsions that can increase the homogeneity and stability, and therefore the efficacy, of the mycobacteria solutions when introduced into the body.

“Of the emulsions we tested, the one based on olive oil induce a prominent immune response in both in vitro and in vivo experiments. In addition, the characteristics of this emulsion, which preserves the viability of the mycobacteria and provided higher anti-clumping rates, indicates favourable conditions for reaching the bladder epithelium,” says IBEC’s Eduard Torrents, who contributed to the study. “The results highlight the potential of this olive oil-based emulsion as a promising delivery vehicle for the mycobacterial treatment of bladder cancer.”

The work has been carried out by researchers from the Department of Genetics and Microbiology of the Biosciences School, the Department of Animal Medicine and Surgery of the Veterinary School, and the Microbiology Service of the UAB, and Eduard Torrents’ Bacterial Infections and Antimicrobial Therapies group at IBEC.

Source article: Estela Noguera-Ortega, Núria Blanco-Cabra, Rosa Maria Rabanal, Alejandro Sánchez-Chardi, Mónica Roldán, Sandra Guallar-Garrido, Eduard Torrents, Marina Luquin & Esther Julián (2016). “Mycobacteria emulsified in olive oil-in-water trigger a robust immune response in bladder cancer treatment.” Scientific Reports, 6:27232. http://www.nature.com/articles/srep27232