Skip to content

Gut microbiome directs immune system to fight cancer.

Widely hailed as a breakthrough in cancer therapy, immunotherapies release the brakes of the body’s immune system to launch an efficient tumor attack, however, these treatments don’t work for every person and are often associated with significant side effects. By studying mechanisms of treatment response versus resistance, researchers hope to expand the number of people who benefit from immunotherapy.  Now, a study from researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys demonstrates a causal link between the gut microbiome and the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.  The team states their results also identify a collection of bacterial strains with the potential to turn on anti-tumor immunity and act as biomarkers to identify people with melanoma most likely to benefit from treatment with cancer immunotherapy.  The opensource study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Previous studies show a growing collection of research supports the role of the gut microbiome in effective immunotherapy.  Antibiotics and select probiotics are well-established in muting the effectiveness of treatment, while certain bacterial strains were shown to improve the effectiveness of the treatment.  However, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain largely elusive.  The current study genetically modifies mice to alter their intestinal microbiota flora to demonstrate limited tumor expansion and immunity.

The current study utilizes a genetic mouse model lacking the gene for RING finger protein 5 (RNF5), which helps remove inappropriately folded or damaged proteins.  Results show the RNF5-lacking mice were able to inhibit the growth of melanoma tumors, provided they had an intact immune system and gut microbiome, via several immune system components, including Toll-like receptors and select dendritic cells, within the gut intestinal environment. Data findings show the reduced unfolded protein response (UPR), a cellular signaling pathway maintaining protein health, is also associated with the altered gut microbiomes seen in the mice.

The lab states bioinformatics allowed them to identify 11 bacterial strains enriched in the guts of the RNF5-lacking mice.  They go on to add transferring these bacterial strains to regular mice lacking intestinal bacteria-induced anti-tumor immune response and slowed tumor growth.  To confirm the results were relevant in human disease, the group obtained tissue samples from three cohorts of people with metastatic melanoma who subsequently received a cancer immunotherapy.

The team surmises their study establishes a formal link between the microbiome and anti-tumor immunity and points to the role of the UPR in this process.  For the future, the researchers plan to determine which metabolites the bacteria are producing which slow tumor growth, which could then be used to enhance anti-tumor immunity and define possible prebiotics to enrich their presence in the gut of melanoma patients.

Source: Sanford Burnham Prebys

 

Get Healthinnovations delivered to your inbox:

Healthinnovations View All

Michelle Petersen is the founder of Healthinnovations, having worked in the health and science industry for over 21 years, which includes tenure within the NHS and Oxford University. Healthinnovations is a publication that has reported on, influenced, and researched current and future innovations in health for the past decade.

Michelle has been picked up as an expert writer for Informa publisher’s Clinical Trials community, as well as being listed as a blog source by the world’s leading medical journals, including the acclaimed Nature-Springer journal series.

Healthinnovations is currently indexed by the trusted Altmetric and PlumX metrics systems, respectively, as a blog source for published research globally. Healthinnovations is also featured in the world-renowned BioPortfolio, BioPortfolio.com, the life science, pharmaceutical and healthcare portal.

Most recently the Texas A&M University covered The Top 10 Healthinnovations series on their site with distinguished Professor Stephen Maren calling the inclusion of himself and his team on the list a reflection of “the hard work and dedication of my students and trainees”.

Michelle Petersen’s copy was used in the highly successful marketing campaign for the mega-hit film ‘Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Jack Black, Karen Gilian, Kevin Hart and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Michelle Petersen’s copywriting was part of the film’s coverage by the Republic TV network. Republic TV is the most-watched English language TV channel in India since its inception in 2017.

An avid campaigner in the fight against child sex abuse and trafficking, Michelle is a passionate humanist striving for a better quality of life for all humans by helping to provide traction for new technologies and techniques within healthcare.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.