Stem Cell transplants more successful with a healthy microbiome

Stem Cell transplants more successful with a healthy microbiome

A single bacterium, Bacteroides fragilis, has been found by researchers at MUSC to significantly reduce the risk of GVHD in Stem Cell Transplants for blood and lymph cancers, where the host rejects the donor's cells. 

Over the past 15 years, stem cell transplants, or bone marrow transplants, have been increasingly used with patients who have a blood or lymph cancer or a multiple myeloma. However, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a potentially serious complication of allogenic stem cell transplants – allogenic is where the patient receives stem cells from a donor.

GVHD occurs when the donor’s T-cells (the graft) see the recipient’s healthy cells (the host) as foreign and so attack them. GVHD can be severe and life-threatening in some cases.

Problems are defined as ‘Acute’ and the answer is usually found in immunosuppressant drugs; or ‘Chronic’ where the problem occurs in an organ and can be fatal.

Just, one bacterium can improve stem cell transplant results!

Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Medicine (MUSC) have discovered that just one strain from the family (genus) Bacteroides, namely Bacteroides fragilis greatly reduced the risk of GVHD after a bone marrow transplant.

The problem is that normally in leukemia patients, several rounds of intensive chemo are followed by whole body radiation, leaving no chance of an intact and healthy gut microbiome.

Worse, frequently patients develop a leaky gut resulting from a damaged gut lining. Bacteroides is known to be a bacterium provided by mother to her baby in her milk and it helps build the gut lining.

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist said, "We have previously carried research where the patient had a Fecal Microbiome Transplant (FMT) from their own original gut microbiome. The problem with that is it brings good and bad bacteria (and maybe even those that caused the illness in the first place!)"

The new research led by Xue-Zhong Yu, M.D., associate director of Basic Science at Hollings Cancer Center and published in JCI Insight concluded that protecting the gut health of these patients was crucial to reducing risk of GVHD.

Chris Woollams, author of ‘Heal your Gut – Heal your Body’ added, “If you are going to use high dose chemo and whole body radiotherapy, you will lose 80 per cent of your gut microbiome. The issue is thus adding the bacteria back in after the transplant has taken – about 4 days. The problem here is that Doctors and Oncologists just don’t understand the microbiome and are extremely afraid that the patient will pick up a bug. So they want the patient to stay on antibiotics, anti-fungals anti-virals for months after. They tell patients not to take probiotics, or probiotic foods, and even organic foods. Basically, they are doing everything in their power to prevent the patient getting better!. I fear the only options are a FMT or high dose ‘healthy probiotics’ – not billions but trillions. Maybe someone needs to put a super pill together with all good bacteria and no pathogens!

The research was very clear. When patients were given B fragilis, it boosted many commensal (good) bacteria.

It must be remembered that a healthy gut reduces GVHD, a disease that kills people. Perhaps this fact alone will highlight the need for a healthy microbiome in cancer survival, whatever the orthodox treatment”.

Go to: Fecal Transplants rescue patients after bone marrow transplants


  1. MUSC; 21 Feb 2021; Researchers explore how to protect gut integrity to improve outcomes in blood cancers


  Approved by the Medical Board. Click Here 


2021 Research
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