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Bacteria as vectors for gene therapy of cancer.Baban, Chwanrow K; Cronin, Michelle; O'Hanlon, Deirdre; O'Sullivan, Gerald C; Tangney, Mark; Cork Cancer Research Centre, Mercy University Hospital and Leslie C. Quick Jr., Laboratory, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. (2012-01-31)Anti-cancer therapy faces major challenges, particularly in terms of specificity of treatment. The ideal therapy would eradicate tumor cells selectively with minimum side effects on normal tissue. Gene or cell therapies have emerged as realistic prospects for the treatment of cancer, and involve the delivery of genetic information to a tumor to facilitate the production of therapeutic proteins. However, there is still much to be done before an efficient and safe gene medicine is achieved, primarily developing the means of targeting genes to tumors safely and efficiently. An emerging family of vectors involves bacteria of various genera. It has been shown that bacteria are naturally capable of homing to tumors when systemically administered resulting in high levels of replication locally. Furthermore, invasive species can deliver heterologous genes intra-cellularly for tumor cell expression. Here, we review the use of bacteria as vehicles for gene therapy of cancer, detailing the mechanisms of action and successes at preclinical and clinical levels.