The oncology field has explored novel cancer therapies through antibodies, vaccines and our genes. These factors affect the development of cancer, as well as treatment options. Another potential source of treatment and prevention? The six pounds of bacteria that call our body home, which may be linked to general health, chronic disease and may even help us fight and prevent cancer.
Bacteria may affect cancer in a number of ways, including disrupting how often cells replicate, the immune system, and by manipulating cell metabolism. Bacteria can disturb our immune system by moderating our cellular immune response, which can in turn lead to inflammation or autoimmune disorders. Some studies have shown diets high in fiber or fat may alter the metabolism of the intestinal microbiome and generate acid, which increases the risk of colon cancer.
Research has progressed in recent years. We can now sequence tumor cells to identify which bacteria may have affected them and the potential role the bacteria play in the microbiome. Doctors can potentially use bacteria to kick-start immunotherapy treatments, like PD-L1 Immunotherapy for sarcomas, melanomas and kidney cancer.