If you do not take into account the presence of useful microflora, then our body does not really like it when bacteria settle in it. But have you ever wondered how bacteria infect our cells with you? After all, just being there is clearly not enough. Meanwhile, the mechanism that microorganisms use is very simple and at the same time effective - they have something like "syringes" for injecting toxins into the cells of their host. But researchers at the Max Planck Institute have found a way to take advantage of this by replacing cellular toxins with other chemicals, such as drugs. And it is perfect for the treatment of tumor processes.
How bacteria can fight cancer
According to the New Atlas, many bacteria infect the cells of their host using the so-called syringe mechanism. These bacteria include E. coli and Yersinia, the bacterial family that causes the plague. These bacteria attach themselves to the surface of the cell and then form a channel that pierces the protective membrane. Thus, the bacteria transfer the toxic protein inside, killing it within a few minutes.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute have previously studied this process using cryoelectron microscopy. As the name suggests, it involves cooling samples to ultra-low temperatures and then examining them with powerful electron microscopes. This allows scientists to see the structure of proteins in high resolution. As part of the new work, the team found out if bacteria can "switch" these channels for pumping toxins to something more useful. But everything was complicated by the fact that scientists had to comply with 3 conditions. First, the protein must be of a certain size. Secondly, the proteins must be positively charged. And thirdly, proteins should not interact with molecules that form a "capsule" that holds them inside.
It is worth noting that although this process can be adapted to deliver drugs to cells, in some cases it can also be used to inject toxic proteins. The team of experts says the nano-syringes can also be used to combat various microorganisms. This is pretty ironic, isn't it? After all, bacteria can be fought with their own "weapon".