Gut bacteria may affect cancer treatments

How well a cancer treatment works might depend on what’s living in your gut. Two studies in mice have shown that gut bacteria can influence the effectiveness of treatments for cancer.

Drugs such as ipilimumab, which is given to people with advanced melanoma, work by activating the immune system to help it fight cancer.

Some people who take the drug experience inflammation in the gut. This led Mathias Chamaillard at the University of Lille, France, to wonder whether gut bacteria might be interacting with the drug.

To investigate, Chamaillard and his colleagues gave ipilimumab to mice that lack bacteria in their gut. The drug wasn’t as effective at treating cancer in these mice compared with mice with normal gut bacteria. The effectiveness of the drug also decreased when the normal mice were given antibiotics to wipe out their gut bacteria. Read more…

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