Outnumbering our own cells more than 10 to one, the microbes thriving peacefully in the human body help keep us healthy. Recently, research findings have showed that microbial guests may also aid in the treatment of disease. Some of those studies were summarised by Elisabeth Pennisi in the “News and analysis” section of the Science Magazine, in an article titled “Cancer therapies use a little help from microbial friends”, in November 2013.


Pennisi highlighted two studies carried out in mice that illustrated the complex interplay of microbial activity and function with the immune system and therapies. In particular, the authors of both studies found that gut bacteria bolstered the effects of three antitumor regimens by priming the immune system. In each case, when a mouse’s microbial residents were missing—as when antibiotics are given—the treatments were far less effective. Investigators warned against applying the mice findings to people, but already one of the researchers is being more cautious about prescribing antibiotics for her cancer patients.


To read the full summary, please visit the link below.


Pennisi E (2013) Cancer Therapies Use a Little Help From Microbial Friends. Science 342(6161) pp. 921 doi:10.1126/science.342.6161.921


In addition, the Science’s editors suggested the following related resources on Science sites and Science Translational Medicine:


Iida N et al. (2013) Commensal Bacteria Control Cancer Response to Therapy by Modulating the Tumor Microenvironment Science 342(6161) pp. 967-970 doi:10.1126/science.1240527

Viaud S et al. (2013) The Intestinal Microbiota Modulates the Anticancer Immune Effects of Cyclophosphamide Science 342(6161) pp. 971-976 doi:10.1126/science.1240537

Blumberg R & Powrie F (2013) Microbiota, Disease, and Back to Health: A Metastable Journey Science Translational Medicine 4(137) pp. 137rv7. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3004184

Lemon KP et al. (2013) Microbiota-Targeted Therapies: An Ecological Perspective Science Translational Medicine 4(137) pp. 137rv5. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3004183

Sonnenburg JL & Fischbach MA (2013 Community Health Care: Therapeutic Opportunities in the Human Microbiome Science Translational Medicine 3(78) pp. 78ps12. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3001626