Gut bacteria provide new hope in colorectal cancer treatment

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Researchers at the University of Alberta have made a significant breakthrough in colorectal cancer research, published in Frontiers in Immunology.

They discovered that metabolites, produced by gut bacteria during the digestion of dietary fiber, can trigger a robust immune response against colorectal cancer cells. This finding opens up new avenues for treating one of the deadliest cancers.

How Metabolites Work Against Cancer

The team, led by associate professor Kristi Baker, found that these metabolites activate a specific molecule on the surface of cancer cells, attracting T cells, a type of immune cell.

Additionally, these metabolites can penetrate the cancer cells’ nucleus, altering their DNA and further amplifying the immune response.

Colorectal cancer ranks as the second and third most lethal cancer for men and women, respectively.

This study’s findings are particularly significant as they offer a potential new method for cancer treatment, focusing on the natural processes of the body’s immune system.

Courtney Mowat, a trainee under Baker, led the research with the help of undergraduate students.

The team tested butyrate and propionate, two common metabolites from gut bacteria, on cancer cells in both mice and human cells in the lab. The strong and consistent response to these metabolites was surprising and promising.

Building on these findings, Baker plans to deepen the understanding of the underlying mechanisms.

Future experiments will vary the concentrations of these metabolites and combine them with existing immunotherapies to assess their effectiveness against various cancer types.

Potential Clinical Applications

The research team envisions using these findings to develop prognostic tests or new cancer treatments.

One possible application could be identifying patients with low levels of these beneficial bacteria and supplementing their treatment with a pill to mimic the metabolites’ effects.

However, Baker notes that simply increasing dietary fiber intake may not produce sufficient quantities of these target metabolites.

A New Era in Cancer Treatment

This research marks a significant step towards harnessing the body’s natural defenses in the fight against cancer.

By utilizing the products of gut bacteria, there’s potential for developing more effective, targeted treatments for colorectal cancer, offering hope to thousands affected by this disease.

If you care about gut health, please read studies about This stuff in coffee and chocolate may impact gut health and findings of Gut health is linked to anxiety levels.

For more information about obesity, please see recent studies about low-carb keto diet could manage obesity effectively and results showing popular weight loss diet linked to heart disease and cancer.

The research findings can be found in Neuron.

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