Probiotics improve chemo outcomes as much as the new immunotherapies

Probiotics improve chemo outcomes as much as the new immunotherapies

Research from the University of Chicago has caused a bit of a stir. After all the hype of how the new breed of immunotherapy enhances the performance of existing chemo and add years onto survival times, it would seem there is just as an effective solution – and you can do it yourself, cheaper!

Immunotherapy, for example with melanoma, uses ‘check point inhibitors. These block, the cancer’s ability to hide from the immune system. Drugs like ipilimumab, nivolumab and pembrolizumab are expensive, and work on less than 20 per cent of cases, puzzling scientists. They increased life expectancy from about 5 months for chemo (docetaxel) alone, to 17 months on average in combination.

Now researchers led by Thomas Gajewski, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and pathology at the University of Chicago have shown that certain bacteria enhanced the immune system’s response to a cancer.

Indeed, first they noticed that some mice in the experiment, had a robust immune response to melanoma, while another group from a different supplier had no such response. So they checked and found it was all to do with the bacteria in the mice microbiome. When they then searched for which bacteria delivered the benefit, they were surprised to find it was Bifidobacterium (the bacterium a baby picks up from mum as it passes through the birth canal. This bacterium is known to promote a strong T-cell anti-tumour response. And providing Bifidobacteria enabled a ‘robust immune response’.

They are now looking at what others might also deliver this response.
Not surprisingly, a second study, this time from the Institut Gustave Roussy in Paris, has found that antibiotics can disrupt the antitumor effects of ipilimumab. The drug needs the gut bacteria to work!

However, restoring the gut microbiome health in antibiotic-treated mice restored the drug’s anti-cancer effects.

Go to: our best selling book, ’Heal your Gut - Heal your Body’

Only recently, in Cancer Watch we covered research that showed the humble small-dose aspirin was shown to also posses the ability to block the blockers and help the immune system ‘see’ and attack the cancer cells.

Who needs expensive drugs?


"Commensal Bifidobacterium promotes anti-tumor immunity and facilitates anti-PD-L1 efficacy," by A.Sivan et al. Science,


2015 Research
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