Hypoxia-targeting bacteria in cancer therapy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Tumor hypoxia plays a crucial role in driving cancer progression and fostering resistance to therapies by contributing significantly to chemoresistance, radioresistance, angiogenesis, invasiveness, metastasis, altered cell metabolism, and genomic instability. Despite the challenges encountered in therapeutically addressing tumor hypoxia with conventional drugs, a noteworthy alternative has emerged through the utilization of anaerobic oncolytic bacteria. These bacteria exhibit a preference for accumulating and proliferating within the hypoxic regions of tumors, where they can initiate robust antitumor effects and immune responses. Through simple genetic manipulation or sophisticated synthetic bioengineering, these bacteria can be further optimized to improve safety and antitumor activities, or they can be combined synergistically with chemotherapies, radiation, or other immunotherapies. In this review, we explore the potential benefits and challenges associated with this innovative anticancer approach, addressing issues related to clinical translation, particularly as several strains have progressed to clinical evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Cancer Biology
StatePublished - May 2024


  • Clostridium
  • anaerobic bacteria
  • cancer
  • hypoxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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