By delivering payloads in response to specific exogenous stimuli, smart bacterial therapeutics have the potential to overcome many limitations of conventional therapies, including poor targeting specificity and dosage control in current cancer treatments. Although not yet explored as a trigger for bacterial drug delivery, light is an ideal induction mechanism because it offers fine spatiotemporal control and is easily and safely administered. Using recent advances in optogenetics, we have engineered two strains of Escherichia coli to secrete a potent mammalian cytotoxin in response to blue or red light. The tools in this study demonstrate the initial feasibility of light-activated bacterial therapeutics for applications such as tumor cytolysis, and their modular nature should enable simple substitution of other payloads of interest.
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© 2013 American Chemical Society.