Harnessing The Power of Probiotics to Fight Colorectal Cancer

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Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a major global health concern, expected to result in 3.2 million new cases and 1.6 million deaths by 2040.

Prevention and treatment of CRC typically involve lifestyle changes, screenings, polyp removal, surgery, and therapies like chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

However, the slow progression from adenoma to carcinoma and the development of drug resistance often challenge the effectiveness of these treatments.

This has led researchers to explore alternative, non-invasive strategies for CRC prevention, with a notable focus on probiotics.

Researchers from The Chinese University of Hong Kong have delved into recent studies on probiotics to understand both traditional and new probiotic interventions, as well as their role as an adjuvant in enhancing chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

Their review, published in the Chinese Medical Journal, provides valuable insights into this promising field.

Professor Jun Yu, the lead author of the review, highlights the potential of using CRC-depleted bacteria as a probiotic intervention. This approach aims to cultivate an intestinal environment that resists CRC development.

Identifying specific bacteria and developing probiotics for CRC prevention is seen as a safe and innovative strategy.

The review discusses the use of microbes in preventing CRC. Probiotics, such as lactic acid bacteria from various genera including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, were the first line of defense.

They work by colonizing the intestine, countering pathogens, enhancing the intestinal barrier, modulating immune responses, and even inducing cancer cell death.

The emergence of next-generation probiotics (NGPs), like Bacteroides fragilis and Akkermansia muciniphila, is attributed to advancements in genomics, although their mechanisms are still under investigation.

Postbiotics, derived from probiotic bacteria, also show promise in CRC prevention. They include elements like dead microbial cells, enzymes, and short-chain fatty acids.

Their advantage lies in not containing live bacteria, reducing risks associated with consumption. Optimizing probiotic delivery systems is also crucial for maximizing their effectiveness in the gut.

The review details several mechanisms by which probiotics can prevent CRC. These include limiting harmful bacteria, restoring the intestinal mucus barrier, inhibiting tumor proliferation, deactivating carcinogens, and modulating the immune system to prevent tumor-supportive inflammation.

Furthermore, probiotics can enhance chemotherapy and immunotherapy. They improve the effectiveness of these treatments by overcoming drug resistance and boosting the anti-tumor immune response.

In conclusion, the review underscores the importance of the gut microbiome in CRC treatment and prevention. While early detection is key in reducing mortality, it is insufficient as a standalone prevention strategy.

The advancements in metagenomic sequencing and bacterial genome editing technologies are rapidly expanding the understanding of probiotics’ anti-cancer effects.

Research into NGPs and postbiotics, in particular, is believed to hold significant therapeutic potential in the fight against colorectal cancer. Prof. Yu’s study brings hope for new, effective strategies in managing this prevalent and challenging disease.

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The research findings can be found in Chinese Medical Journal.

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