Using the Gut Microbiome to Develop Cancer Treatment

Mammals have over 100 trillion microbes in distinct locations of the body-outnumbering mammalian cells 10-fold. Nearly 1000 different types of microbes colonize the host. Moreover, healthy individuals differ vastly in the type of microbes that colonize their gut, likely as a consequence of their exposure to microorganisms after birth, genetics, environmental cues, and diet. These diverse microbial communities are collectively referred to as the microbiota. Beyond aiding in digestion and nutrient acquisition, microbes impact health and disease via regulating the immune system.

Mutualistic microbes that colonize the gut are crucial for health. These microbes sustain basic physiological processes—digestion, vitamin synthesis, and host-defense. However, disruption of this homeostatic host-microbe relationship can promote disease pathogenesis, such as various autoimmune diseases. Changes in the microbiota can also influence tumor immunity. As cancer therapy develops, it is vital to understand the impact of these treatments on host-microbes and the immune system. Read more…

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