Saving Lives With Salmonella

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Updated: 12/06/2011 8:21 am

The next big thing in cancer treatment could come from deadly bacteria.  Learn how salmonella could help save lives.

Salmonellosis is a type of food poisoning caused by salmonella.  Approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported each year in the U.S.  The University of Minnesota is now conducting a new study and is recruiting male and females, ages 18 and older, to test if salmonella can be used for the treatment cancers surrounding the gut.  Their goal is to "weaponize" the salmonella, which allows the bacteria to attack cancer cells in its natural environment.

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CAUSES OF SALMONELLOSIS: Causes of salmonellosis can vary.  Food may be contaminated during the handling process or during food process.  It can be causes by food handlers not washing their hands after using the restroom, there for caring the bacteria on their hands.  Another cause is by petting certain animals, especially rodents and reptiles.  It is advised to wash one’s hands after petting these animals in order to prevent the accidental consumption of salmonella. 



SYMPTOMS: The main symptoms that occur with salmonellosis are diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping. 

APPLICATION: Salmonella thrives by finding and staying in the gut and its surrounding areas, such as the liver, spleen and colon.  Therefore, scientists want to test the ability to deliver Interlueken 2, or IL-2, with a genetically modified batch of salmonella in order to attack and treat cancerous tumors.  Interlueken 2 would trigger an immune attack on the tumors.  Tests have been conducted on animals to test the effectiveness of using salmonella as a way to deliver treatment to the cancerous areas.  Results have been successful.  Researchers suggest that the therapy has potential to be cheaper and less toxic than chemotherapy and radiation.

The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health, The Masonic Cancer Center and Botanic Oil Innovations.

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Edward Greeno, MD

University of Minnesota


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marsha Hitchcock at

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