London: Salmonella bacteria could be used in the war against cancer after it was found to trigger the body`s own defence system against the disease.
Scientists have discovered that treating tumours with the Salmonella can induce an immune response that effectively kills cancer cells - and also vaccinates against further growth, reports the Telegraph.
Salmonella is a rod-shaped bacteria, which lives in the stomach and intestines of humans and animals. It can lead to fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting.
Cancer cells are especially dangerous because they evade the body`s immune system that usually tracks down and kills abnormalities, says the journal of Science Translational Medicine.
Treating these cancer cells with Salmonella effectively makes them "visible" to the body`s immune cells and therefore open to attack.
Researchers at the University of Milan have made the system work in mice in the lab and are now looking to carry out trials in humans next year.
Doctor Maria Rescigno, of the University of Milan, said that Salmonella, in a low dose so as not to cause harm in itself, acted as a "red flag" highlighting dangerous cancer cells.
She said the immune cells suddenly recognised and killed tumour cells in the mice.
They also protected mice from cancer spreading to other parts of the body - a "vaccination" style preventive strategy.
"We are very excited about the results," said Rescigno, who hopes that trials will begin in May.