New Delhi: Sequencing technology has recently shown that the gut microbiome can play a role in cancer treatment, among other benefits.
A review paper published in JAMA Oncology by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital reflects the current understanding of the relationship between the gut microbiome and therapeutic response to immunotherapy, chemotherapy, cancer surgery and more, suggesting that the microbiome may be important for improving treatment. can be targeted. , “We know that a healthy gut is the key to our overall health,” said lead author Khalid Shah, MS, PhD, of the Center for Stem Cells and Translational Immunotherapy in the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham. “Our gut is so important that we often refer to it as our ‘second’ brain. In recent years, we have begun to appreciate the many roles the gut plays, including the gut-brain connection and the gut and us. Relationships are involved. The immune system. Conversely, gut dysfunction or dysbiosis can have a negative impact on our health.” Shah and colleagues report on the emerging role of the gut microbiota in immunotherapy. Immune checkpoint inhibitors and immune checkpoint blockade therapies are new strategies to treat cancer, but the response to these forms of treatment varies greatly between individuals and cancer types. Several studies have found differences in bacterial species found in stool samples of responders and non-responders, suggesting that different microbiome compositions may influence clinical responses.
Other studies suggest that diet and probiotics – live bacterial species that can be ingested – as well as antibiotics and bacteriophages, can affect the composition of the gut microbiome and, in turn, the response to immunotherapy. In particular, the authors highlight recent studies on the effects of the ketogenic diet on cancer patients.
“Today, developing treatments that synergize immunotherapy and the gut microbiota offer a unique opportunity to impact medicine that truly changes patient care,” Shah said.
The authors also provide an overview of how the microbiota has been implicated in influencing response to chemotherapy and other conventional cancer treatments as well as how cancer treatments can mutually affect the microbiome and cause side effects. .
“Overall, these findings support the potential for influencing the gut microbiota to reduce the side effects of conventional cancer treatments,” Shah said.
The authors note that there is little understanding of what the “ideal” bacterial consortia looks like in the gut and whether the findings from the preclinical model can translate into applications in humans. They note that caution should be exercised before using probiotics or making dietary changes. Several cancer clinical trials are currently exploring the impact of the microbiome to help address some of the limitations and gaps in understanding. These include faecal microbial transplantation, dietary supplements and trials of new drugs that may affect microbiota composition.
“There is strong evidence that the gut microbiome can have a positive effect on cancer treatment,” Shah said. “Exciting possibilities remain to be explored, including the effects of healthy diets, probiotics, novel treatments, and more.”