Research can use gut bacteria against cancer

Research can use gut bacteria against cancer
Research can use gut bacteria against cancer

Does the gut flora have an effect on cancer therapy

Health~Holland has awarded nearly €800,000 to a public-private partnership of UMC Utrecht, Artizan Biosciences (US) and MicroViable Therapeutics (Spain) to unravel how gut bacteria can be used to improve cancer immunotherapy and reduce treatment side effects. to limit. The project will be led by Dr. Marcel de Zoete, associate professor at the Department of Medical Microbiology at UMC Utrecht.

Immune checkpoint inhibition (ICI) therapy enables the treatment of an increasing number of metastatic cancers and offers new hope to cancer patients. ICI therapy is designed to prompt the immune system to attack the tumor cells. Surprisingly, the bacteria in the gut (“microbiota”) play an important role in the success of ICI therapy, suggesting that an interaction between the immune system and gut bacteria helps determine how hard and effectively immune cells attack the tumor. However, ICI therapy is not without risks; although well tolerated by some patients, the side effects of ICI therapy can be serious, irreversible and sometimes even fatal. It is striking that this ‘ICI toxicity’ often presents itself as a serious intestinal inflammation. Here too, it is assumed that the composition of the gut bacteria is an important factor for toxicity.

Public-private cooperation
In a public-private partnership, UMC Utrecht, Artizan Biosciences and MicroViable Therapeutics want to uncover bacterial species and underlying mechanisms that influence both the outcome of ICI therapy and the toxicity of the treatment. To this end, a large biobank of cancer patient material collected both before and during ICI therapy (including from patients with inflammatory bowel disease) will be examined, immune-activating bacteria will be identified and isolated, and molecular mechanisms will be unraveled using various in vitro and in vivo models.

Microbiota Targeted Therapy
Together with the private partners, UMC Utrecht wants to provide a substantiation for microbiota-targeted therapies that maximize the effectiveness of immune therapy while minimizing intestinal side effects. This project will positively influence the health and longevity of people with cancer by making immunotherapy more efficient and cost-effective.

“In up to 56 percent of immune-related adverse events in ICI-treated patients, symptoms present in the gut as moderate to severe intestinal inflammation, similar to what is seen in patients with inflammatory bowel disease,” said Dr. Marcel de Zoete. , associate professor of microbiome research at the Department of Medical Microbiology at UMC Utrecht. “Recent data show a clear correlation between the severity of ICI toxicity and the life expectancy of people with cancer. The main challenge is to maximize the effectiveness of ICI therapy while minimizing toxicity.”

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Does the gut flora have an effect on cancer therapy?
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