Canadian researchers have uncovered promising results in the battle against colon cancer, in research using mice.
The study, at the University of Alberta, explored how some compounds produced by gut bacteria during digestion – called metabolites – can boost human immune defence against this type of cancer.
The findings are particularly significant because colon cancer is the second leading cause of all cancer-related deaths worldwide.
The research, published in Frontiers in Immunology, concentrated on two metabolites, which are generated by gut bacteria in humans by consuming fibre. The metabolites were injected into tumours in mice, leading to the increase of a molecule on the surface of cancer cells that is targeted by immune T-cells to boost the body’s defences.
Kristi Baker, who led the study, said: “If we find a patient who doesn't have a lot of the bacteria that naturally produce these particular metabolites, maybe they could take a pill that would basically turn on those same pathways in order to boost the immune response.”
Other metabolite studies are being conducted, such as those by EARA member NOVA Medical School, in Lisbon, Portugal, looking at treatments for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's in animal models and brain cell organoids – see video.