Investigating the Physical Effects in Bacterial Therapies for Avascular Tumors

Pietro Mascheroni, Michael Meyer-Hermann, Haralampos Hatzikirou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tumor-targeting bacteria elicit anticancer effects by infiltrating hypoxic regions, releasing toxic agents and inducing immune responses. Although current research has largely focused on the influence of chemical and immunological aspects on the mechanisms of bacterial therapy, the impact of physical effects is still elusive. Here, we propose a mathematical model for the anti-tumor activity of bacteria in avascular tumors that takes into account the relevant chemo-mechanical effects. We consider a time-dependent administration of bacteria and analyze the impact of bacterial chemotaxis and killing rate. We show that active bacterial migration toward tumor hypoxic regions provides optimal infiltration and that high killing rates combined with high chemotactic values provide the smallest tumor volumes at the end of the treatment. We highlight the emergence of steady states in which a small population of bacteria is able to constrain tumor growth. Finally, we show that bacteria treatment works best in the case of tumors with high cellular proliferation and low oxygen consumption.

Original languageBritish English
Article number1083
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - 4 Jun 2020


  • bacterial therapy
  • cancer
  • chemotaxis
  • mathematical modeling
  • space competition


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