Bugs as drugs: neglected but a promising future therapeutic strategy in cancer

Mithoor Divyashree, Shama K Prakash, Vankadari Aditya, Alaa Aa Aljabali, Khalid J Alzahrani, Vasco Azevedo, Aristóteles Góes-neto, Murtaza M Tambuwala, Debmalya Barh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


Effective cancer treatment is an urgent need due to the rising incidence of cancer. One of the most promising future strategies in cancer treatment is using microorganisms as cancer indicators, prophylactic agents, immune activators, vaccines or vectors in antitumor therapy. The success of bacteria-mediated chemotherapy will be dependent on the balance of therapeutic benefit and the control of bacterial infection in the body. Additionally, protozoans and viruses have the potential to be used in cancer therapy. This review summarizes how these microorganisms interact with tumor microenvironments and the challenges of a ‘bugs as drugs' approach in cancer therapy. Several standpoints are discussed, such as bacteria as vectors for gene therapy that shuttle therapeutic compounds into tumor tissues, their intrinsic antitumor activities and their combination with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Bug-based cancer therapy is a two-edged sword and we need to find the opportunities by overcoming the challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1609-1626
Number of pages18
JournalFuture Oncology
Issue number13
Early online date9 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 13 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Murtaza Tambuwala.


  • Cancer
  • microbes
  • therapeutics
  • cancer therapy
  • bacteria-mediated therapy
  • attenuation
  • antitumor response
  • biosurfactants
  • biofilms


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