Microbiome Technology for Cancer Treatment: Progress So Far

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Microbes have been shown to have an essential role in regulating the immune system and play a critical role in cancer initiation, progression, and metastasis.

In fact, over the last decade, microbiome therapeutics have emerged as a new cancer treatment for improving cancer therapeutic outcomes. Trillions of microbes living inside our body form a microbial community known as the microbiome.

Microbiome and Cancer

Biomedical research has revealed that the microbiome is a crucial part of the human body system. The gut microbes, for instance, provide essential metabolic capabilities not found in our genome, which implies that these organisms have an active role to play inside our bodies.

Recent studies have revealed that there are ten times more microbial genes than human genes inside the body. In this sense, researchers have been able to focus their attention on studying what kinds of microbes live within us and how they influence our health and disease states, including cancer.

As seen from previous research done by microbiome researchers, cancer patients have different kinds of gut microorganisms compared with healthy individuals.

Additionally, it’s been found that cancer patients have a different microbiome compared with their healthy spouses.

Thus, you may conclude that the gut microbiome is essential for cancer development and vice versa. Since there are trillions of microbiota living inside our bodies, they significantly affect our health status, especially regarding various types of cancers.

Microbiome and Immune System Interactions

Even though researchers have discovered a close link between the human microbiome and cancer, only little is known about this relationship so far. 

However, more studies have shown novel mechanisms through which microbes interact with host cells to promote tumor progression. In this sense, one example would be liver cancer, whereby microbes stimulate hepatocyte proliferation while suppressing immune responses against carcinogens.

This immune-modulatory activity of microbes has been linked to the production of immunomodulatory metabolites like tryptophan (TRYP) and indole-3-lactic acid (ILA) in higher concentrations than healthy individuals. 

Moreover, in the case of colorectal cancer, many studies have shown that gut microbiota is essential for activating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s disease (CD).

Microbiome Therapeutics against Cancer

Microbiota consists of many organisms present in our body which means there are great potentials for microbiome therapeutics targeting cancers. 

Indeed, several research groups have started developing microbiome targeted strategies for anticancer treatment focusing on specific diseases, including breast cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, pancreatic cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Gut Microbiome Targeted Therapies for Treating Breast Cancer

Breast tumors are the most common type of cancer among women worldwide. Mammary epithelial cells are constantly exposed to hundreds of bacterial cell components during lactation, implying that microbes have a critical role in regulating mammary gland homeostasis.

Studies have shown that lamina propria dendritic cells (LPDCs) play an essential role in maintaining mammary gland development by producing cytokines/chemokines that regulate the proliferation and differentiation of mammary stem cells.

Final Thoughts

The new cancer treatment technique shows considerable promise. It can help remove cancer and tumors from targeted body areas without causing damage to other cells or organs. Scientists are making new advancements in this treatment every day.