A recent study conducted by a sizable team of cancer researchers from Germany has discovered how gut bacteria positively impact cancer treatments.
They specifically studied how gut microbiota impacts chemotherapy provided to patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma– the findings of which were published in the medical journal Nature.
Previous research has found that chemotherapy sometimes works well for pancreatic cancer that has metastasized. However, the treatment is also sometimes ineffective– which may be linked to dietary resistance.
The exact source of this adverse effect is unknown, though. So, the researchers decided to study the possible role that specific microorganisms in the gut microbiome play in the process.
The team first began by analyzing samples of the gut microbiome taken from pancreatic cancer patients. They were then able to pinpoint differences between patients who responded to the cancer treatment and those who did not.
Next, the researchers decided to administer biome samples from mice that responded to chemotherapy to mice with sterilized guts. They found that afterward, the mice with previously sterilized guts responded well to chemotherapy.
Afterward, the team collected blood samples from patients who responded well, as well as those who did not respond well, to chemotherapy in order to gain a better understanding of the gut microbiome’s role in chemotherapy effectiveness.
They ultimately found higher levels of a molecule known as 3-IAA in patients that responded better to the cancer treatment. And upon further investigation, the researchers learned these molecules were produced by two gut bacteria strains.
So, the team then attempted to add 3-IAA directly to the food eaten by cancerous mouse models. Afterward, they found that these mice also became more responsive to chemotherapy treatment.