Intestinal bacteria could support cancer therapy



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Disorders of the intestinal flora may affect the effects of chemotherapy

Intestinal bacteria can be helpful in the treatment of cancer. US researchers have now come to this conclusion in scientific experiments with mice. Accordingly, a disturbance in the intestinal flora - for example through antibiotic treatment - could lead to chemotherapy losing its tumor-inhibiting effect.

Intestinal flora plays a central role in the formation of the immune system The intestine of a healthy person is populated by trillions of bacteria, which are called "natural intestinal flora". This is not only involved in digestion and vitamin metabolism, but also plays a central role in the formation of the immune system in the intestine. But the intestinal flora can obviously do even more because, as a research team led by Giorgio Trinchieri and Romina Goldszmid from the laboratory of the "US National Cancer Institute" in Frederick, Maryland, has now discovered, the bacteria may also help to fight cancer.

"CpG oligonucleotides" are intended to support the defense against cancer
As the scientists report in the scientific journal “Science”, they had tested immunotherapy with so-called “CpG oligonucleotides” in two studies with mice, which are single-stranded synthetic DNA sections that are characterized by their relatively high proportion of “CpG- Motives “(CpG = cytosine-phosphate-guanine) should support the defense against cancer. This was also the case in the experiments - but only in the animals whose intestinal flora was healthy.

No positive effect in tests with aseptic mice. In the mice, on the other hand, which had grown up aseptically and therefore had no intact intestinal flora, the tests showed no positive effect on the defense against cancer. Even in the case of previous antibiotic treatment, the attempt failed because it blocked the formation of the body's own signal substances (cytokine), which are supposed to activate the immune system and strengthen against certain cancers. As a result, the mice's immune system was not strong enough to stop the tumors from growing further.

Many cancer patients receive antibiotics to protect them from infections. In further experiments, the researchers came to the conclusion that the effects of so-called “cytostatics” are also closely related to the intestinal flora. These are substances that prevent cell growth or division and are therefore used in particular in chemotherapy to treat cancer. It was shown that chemotherapy with the cytostatic "oxaliplatin" had no positive effect if the animal's intestine had been "cleaned" of microorganisms beforehand by antibiotics - which is done in many cancer patients to protect them from infections.

Disorders of the intestinal flora influence the reaction of the tumors
We were able to show that disturbances in the intestinal flora impair the reaction of the subcutaneous tumors to CpG oligonucleotide immunotherapy and chemotherapy containing platinum. In mice treated with antibiotics or grown germ-free, the tumor-infiltrating cells reacted insufficiently to the therapy, which led to lower cytokine production and less tumor kill after CpG oligonucleotide treatment and inadequate production of reactive oxygen radicals and cytotoxicity after chemotherapy ” , the researchers said in the abstract of their study.

French scientists come to similar results French scientists led by Laurence Zitvogel from the Gustave Roussy Institute in Paris also came to similar results. In animal experiments, these had also initially dealt with inflammation of the mucous membrane of the gastrointestinal tract and the mouth or throat (mucosa), which occurs as a frequent side effect of radiation with the cytostatic agent "cyclophosphamide". In the course of their investigation, the scientists discovered that inflammation of the mucous membrane causes a disturbance in the intestinal barrier, which leads to individual bacteria getting into the blood. If these then reach the lymph nodes, the immune defense is activated, which means that the bacteria - but also existing tumors - are fought. But also here it was shown that this effect could only be achieved if the intestinal flora of the animals was not weakened by previous antibiotic therapy.

Transferability to humans, however, still unclear It remains to be determined whether or to what extent the results of the US and French researchers can be transferred to humans. However, as cancer experts emphasized to Science, it is quite conceivable that antibiotic treatment in cancer patients could have a negative impact on the effects of chemotherapy. Accordingly, further investigations should now follow. (No)

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Video: Probiotics Benefits + Myths. Improve Gut Health. Doctor Mike


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