Courtesy of Chantal Ecobichon and Christine Schmitt/Pasteur Institute
Cancer patients may carry powerful weapons against tumors in their intestines. Two independent studies indicate that intestinal bacteria assist chemotherapy drugs in fighting off tumors.
Gut microbes are necessary for several types of anticancer therapies to work properly, the studies published in the Nov. 22 Science suggest. In experiments using mice, antibiotics hampered the ability of two types of anticancer treatments to combat lymphoma and skin and colon tumors, Noriho Iida of the U.S. National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md., and colleagues report. In mice treated with antibiotics, immune therapy and a platinum-containing chemotherapy drug called oxaliplatin failed to fight off cancer, the researchers found.
A separate study from Sophie Viaud of the French Institute of Health and Medical Research in Villejuif shows that a chemotherapy drug called cyclophosphamide causes bacteria in the gut to move into the lymph system. Once there, the bacteria trigger production of immune cells that then kill tumor cells. Mice raised without any bacteria and mice treated with antibiotics couldn’t produce as many of these immune cells, and the chemotherapy drug became less effective.
N. Lida et al. Commensal bacteria control cancer response to therapy by modulating the tumor microenvironment. Science. Vol. 342, November 22, 2013, p. 967. doi: 10.1126/science.1240527.
A. Yeager. Gut bacteria can drive colon cancer development. Science News Online, November 8, 2013.
J. Shugart. Bacterial molecules may prevent inflammatory bowel disease. Science News. Vol. 184, August 10, 2013, p. 14.
T. H. Saey. Inside job. Science News. Vol. 179, June 18, 2011, p. 26.
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