Bacillus Calmette Guerin

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is a viable attenuated strain of Mycobacterium bovis. Nonviable strains of the bacterium also have been shown to augment the immune response. The smallest active compound derived from BCG thus far has been identified as muramyl dipeptide. The T cell is a principal target for BCG. It also appears to stimulate natural killer cells, which in turn can kill malignant cells. It has been suggested that BCG cross-reacts immunologically with tumor cell antigens.

BCG immunotherapy has been most successful in the treatment of bladder cancers. It is instilled directly into the bladder, where it is held for 2 hours before urination.

The most dangerous complications of BCG therapy are severe hypersensitivity and shock. Chills, fever, malaise, immune complex, and renal disease are among the other side effects. The route of administration influences the nature of the side effects.

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