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Uncovering a Gut Factor Linked to Cancer Chemotherapy Outcomes

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Warren Henry
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A large group of cancer researchers have discovered how gut bacteria can positively influence cancer treatment.

In their study, published in the journal Nature, the group examined the impact of the gut microbiota on chemotherapy given to patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

A research team affiliated with several institutions in Germany in collaboration with scientists from the United States, led by Li Li and Florencia McAllister of the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center, published details of the study in the journal News and Views.

Previous studies have shown that chemotherapy for metastatic pancreatic cancer sometimes works well, but is sometimes ineffective. This difference may be due to diet resistance, although its source is unknown.

In this new study, a team from Germany looked at the possibility that certain microorganisms in the gut microbiome may play a role in this process.

The team began their work by studying samples of the gut microbiome of pancreatic cancer patients and finding differences between those who responded to treatment and those who did not.

They also found that gutless mice that received biological samples from mice responding to chemotherapy also responded well.

To understand how the gut microbiome may play a role in the effectiveness of chemotherapy, the researchers collected blood samples from patients who responded well and from those who did not.

They found higher levels of the 3-IAA molecule in patients who responded better to treatment. Further research showed that the particles were produced by two strains of intestinal bacteria.

The team then tried adding 3-IAA directly to the food consumed by mice with cancer models and found that they also became more responsive to chemotherapy.

The research team noted that 3-IAA is produced in the gut when the amino acid reacts with tryptophan, an acid found in many foods. Follow-up tests with mouse models of cancer have shown that increasing the acidic diet can help with chemotherapy.

While studying why higher levels of 3-IAA help chemotherapy work better, the team found that its presence modifies neutrophils, which are types of immune cells.

The general idea was that microbes in the gut could help fight cancer by sending chemicals through the bloodstream to distant tumors, where chemotherapeutic chemicals would boost chemotherapy by kicking the immune system into action.

Source: Medical Express

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