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Microbiome and Cancer

Microbiome and Cancer

Explore pivotal role of microbiome in cancer development & treatment. Learn about impact on immune response, potential mechanisms, & emerging strategies.

Ankita Padira
December, 28 2023
1285

The human microbiome refers to trillions of microorganisms that live in and on our bodies, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes. These microorganisms play an important role in our overall health and well-being, including regulating our immune system, aiding in digestion, and protecting against pathogens. Now, how does the microbiome relate to cancer? Studies have shown that alterations in the composition and function of the microbiome can contribute to the development and progression of certain types of cancer. For example, the microbiome has been implicated in the development of colorectal cancer, with certain types of bacteria, such as Fusobacterium nucleatum, being found to be more abundant in colorectal cancer tissue compared to healthy tissue.

Further, the microbiome may play a role in cancer treatment. Recent studies have shown that the composition of the microbiome can affect the efficacy of certain cancer therapies, such as immunotherapy. For example, a study published in the journal Science showed that patients with melanoma who responded to immunotherapy had a more diverse microbiome compared to non-responders. So, what are the potential mechanisms involved in the relationship between the microbiome and cancer? One possible mechanism is through the production of metabolites by the microbiome. For example, certain types of bacteria can produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which have been shown to have anti-cancer effects. SCFAs can inhibit the growth of cancer cells and also stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells.

Another potential mechanism is through the modulation of the immune system. The microbiome plays a key role in regulating the immune system, and alterations in the microbiome can lead to immune dysfunction, which in turn can contribute to the development and progression of cancer. For example, the presence of certain types of bacteria in the gut can stimulate the production of regulatory T cells, which suppress the immune response and can allow cancer cells to evade the immune system.

Thus, what are the implications of these findings for cancer prevention and treatment? One potential approach is through the use of probiotics or prebiotics to manipulate the composition of the microbiome. Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer a health benefit when consumed in adequate amounts, while prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gut.

While the use of probiotics and prebiotics is still in its early stages, there is promising evidence to suggest that they may have potential in cancer prevention and treatment. For example, a study published in the journal Nature Communications showed that the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri was able to reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer in mice by modulating the immune system. In addition, there is also interest in the use of fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) as a potential treatment for cancer. FMT involves the transfer of fecal material from a healthy donor into the gut of a recipient, with the aim of restoring a healthy microbiome. While FMT is currently only used for the treatment of certain gastrointestinal infections, there is growing interest in its potential use for the treatment of cancer.

In conclusion, the microbiome plays a complex and important role in the development and progression of cancer. While much is still unknown about the relationship between the microbiome and cancer, there is growing evidence to suggest alterations in the composition.

 

About the Author:

Ms Ankita1,2 is an M.Sc. Bioinformatics student in the Central University of South Bihar, Gaya and she worked as a final year dissertation student in CTRC, DYPBBI, under the guidance of Dr. Soumya Basu.

  • Cancer and Translational Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Research Institute, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Tathawade, Pune, Maharashtra- 411033.
  • Central University of South Bihar, Gaya

Email correspondence: ankitasubhadarsaniparida@gmail.com, soumya.basu@dpu.edu.in

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