In the days of old bacteria was something we avoided. Today however bacteria seems to be the body’s new found friend. With Botox injections that are redefining faces, lips and other areas of the body, now comes Clostridium Novyi to the rescue. However this time it’s for cancerous tumors and not for injecting into peoples faces.

Bacteria found in soil called Clostridium novyi (C. novyi) is known to cause tissue-damaging infections. But researchers from John Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a modified version that triggers an anti-tumor response in rats, dogs and humans. The breakthrough could complement existing methods to provide better targeted treatment of cancerous growths.

I remember the days when one thought about bacteria as something to avoid. Even today we do everything we can to avoid bacteria. We wash our hands with anti-bacterial soaps, avoid touching things such as grocery store baskets, door handles, and dirty counter tops. We seem to wash with soaps that would practically kill roaches, and all to avoid the dreaded bacteria that surrounds our every day lives. However, with the advent of Botox injections into your lips or face, we can now change the way we look while using bacteria that used to kill us. Now comes the dreaded Clostridium Novyi bacteria that is now finding a novel use to kill cancerous tumors.

Led by associate professor of oncology, Shibin Zhou, the team first began investigating the potential of C. noyvi more than 10 years ago. The research was inspired by studies of century-old accounts detailing an immunotherapy called Coley toxins. This treatment arose from observations that some cancer patients demonstrated remission after acquiring certain bacterial infections.

I used to think that having a bacterial infection was a bad thing. However I have noted in the past that when I have an infection I actually get better in other areas for awhile.

Rats with implanted brain tumors were the first to receive injections of the C. novyi-NT spores. The team found that the bacteria killed off tumor cells, but healthy cells as close as a few micrometers away were unaffected. Rats treated with C. novyi-NT lived for 33 days on average after the implantation of the tumor, while those who went untreated lived for an average of only 18.

So while the rats did in fact continue to die, it seems as if their lives were lengthened by more than half. I do wonder though just how one actually would feel? I mean we can’t really ask the rats if they felt better while outliving their counterparts without the bacterial injections. But this shows promising results nonetheless.

Sixteen pet dogs with naturally occurring tumors were then injected with the C. novyi-NT. Six showed an anti-tumor response 21 days later, three of which had the tumors eradicated entirely. In the three other dogs, the longest diameter of their tumors was found to have shrunk by at least 30 percent.

A 30 percent shrinkage of tumors is very promising indeed. Maybe at the end of the day bacteria is actually our friend. So instead of trying our damnedest to get rid of it, maybe we should in fact embrace it and welcome it into our homes with open arms.

In a Phase I clinical trial, a patient with an advanced soft tissue tumor in the abdomen received an injection of C. novyi-NT spores directly into a metastatic tumor in the arm, which led to a significant reduction in the size of the tumor in and around the bone. Though this was not without some side effects.

Oh the dreaded side effects. It seems as if everything given to us today has nasty side effects to go with it. You see it every day on Television commercials for drugs like Cymbalta. You take it to cure one minor thing and supposedly you will run free and happy in a poppy field, while the announcer tells you that it may cause swelling of the lips or tongue, cause TB, liver problems, kidney problems, swelling of the legs, hands, arms, make you vomit profusely, give you bloody anal discharges, uncontrollable flatulence, hives, hepatitis, organ failure, and even death. Of course if you suffer any of these so called side effects, call your doctor.

“She had a very vigorous inflammatory response and abscess formation,” says Nicholas Roberts, Ph.D from the Kimmel Cancer Center. “But at the moment, we haven’t treated enough people to be sure if the spectrum of responses that we see in dogs will truly recapitulate what we see in people.”

No, maybe you haven’t treated enough people to get the side effects all documented, but it sure as hell will come with the standard warnings. Reducing the size of your tumors can cause abscess formations, hives, itchy rashes, swelling of the lips or tongue, kidney failure, liver failure, swelling of the hands or feet, vomiting profusely, bloody anal discharges, and in some cases even death. Consult your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, and see if Clostridium Novyi is right for you…..