Cancer immunotherapy – treatments that harness the body’s immune system to fight cancer – has been gaining traction in recent years as a new approach to treating the disease. But one of its major drawbacks is its variability: for some cancer patients, the drugs have led to remarkable remissions with few side effects. Others have tried them only to find little benefit and a lot of discomfort
.It’s something researchers have been trying to understand, exploring whether there are other drugs that could be used to boost the response in some people, or if genetics could be playing an underlying role in making it more effective in others. And they may finally be onto something.
A team of researchers has recently discovered a link between people’s responses to immunotherapy treatments and the microbes that live in their gut. Having a more diverse gut microbiome, they found, is linked to a better response. The research, which will be presented at an upcoming medical conference, is the first study to make this link in people. Previous studies have however found similar results in mice. Source: Gut bacteria could be affecting the body’s response to a new type of cancer treatment