Gut bacteria can produce an immune response in cancer as good as immunotherapies

Gut bacteria can produce an immune response in cancer as good as immunotherapies

Inflammation and immune response directed by gut bacteria

The Mayo Clinic is partnering with Evelo Biosciences in an attempt to use gut bacteria to stimulate the immune system to attack cancer.

Both inflammation and immune response are known to be directed by gut bacteria, and Evelo is planning to test two ‘bacteria-based immunotherapies’ against various forms of cancer.

The collaboration aims to build a bacteria bank from patient stool samples and so aid the research development.

The composition of the microbiome is extremely diverse. While pathogens tend to be hardy and antibiotics may not work inside 8 weeks or more, commensal bacteria are fragile and be damaged in just a few days. That damage can come from drugs and antibiotics but also from factors such as too much salt, pickles, stress, smoking; indeed anything that changes the acidity inside the gut.

What is now well established is that about 85 per cent of your body’s immune response is directed by the bacteria in your gut. And while commensal bacteria can make powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, small changes (for example, the result of a cows’ dairy-rich meal) can cause much higher levels of inflammatory compounds in the gut.

Gut bacteria make drugs work better

We have previously covered research from Lille Medical School in Cancer Watch where it was shown that an emerging immunotherapy (ipilimumab) needed certain gut bacteria, Bifidobacteria, present in the gut order to help it work effectively. Yet - Catch 22 - taking the immunotherapy damaged the gut bacteria and thus the immune response they supported.

Researchers feel this could be the major reason why many such drugs work in less than 20 per cent of people. They are destroying the factors that could help them. 

In November 2015, researchers led by Thomas Gajewski, Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago showed that introducing certain bacteria into the gut of mice, amplified the immune response to melanoma. The response was as good as the new ‘checkpoint inhibitor’ immunotherapy drugs like nivolumab.  

Now scientists believe that the microbial make-up in the patient gut may hold the key to making immunotherapy drugs - and maybe all drugs - work better - gaining a wider and stronger response.

Indeed, in the Chicago research, when the bacteria additions were combined with the immunotherapy there was an almost complete response and disappearance of the cancer.

Clearly a great deal of work needs to be done but gut bacteria may well hold the key to successful immune responses against cancer.

Meanwhile readers might like to think about taking a probiotic containing different strains of Bifidobacteria whilst they are taking their drugs - You might be interested in what Natural Selection has to offer . For example: Chris Woollams’ Probio8 Max, a practitioners’ strength probiotic

Readers should also do their best, especially when taking drugs, to ensure they have a strong and healthy microbiome - Go To: Heal Ur Gut - Heal Ur Body


2016 Research
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