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Mycobacterium in olive oil for cancer treatment

Researchers at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) with the collaboration of the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), led by the professor of the UAB Department of Genetics and Microbiology Esther Julián, announced one year ago that the cells of the Mycobacterium brumae offer an improved alternative to current bladder cancer treatments such as BCG (an immunotherapy based on the Mycobacterium bovis), which can cause infections.

Since then, they have been looking for ways to improve the immunotherapeutic activity of M. brumae through the design of different emulsions which can increase the homogeneity and stability, and therefore the efficacy, of the mycobacteria solutions when introduced into the body.

Researchers found a way to reduce the clumps produced naturally when mycobacteria cells, which possess a high content of lipids in their walls, are introduced into the usual aqueous solutions 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.

Of the emulsions tested, the one based on olive oil induce a prominent immune response in both in vitro and in vivo experiments. Olive oil preserves the viability of the mycobacteria and provided higher anti-clumping rates, and this indicates favourable conditions for reaching the bladder.

According to Esther Julián, “these results highlight the potential of the olive oil-based emulsion as a promising delivery vehicle for the mycobacterial treatment of bladder cancer”.

Article: Mycobacteria emulsified in olive oil-in-water trigger a robust immune response in bladder cancer treatment, Estela Noguera-Ortega, Núria Blanco-Cabra, Rosa Maria Rabanal, Alejandro Sánchez-Chardi, Mónica Roldán, Sandra Guallar-Garrido, Eduard Torrents, Marina Luquin & Esther Julián, Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/srep27232, published online 6 June 2016.