Gut Fungi And How It Is Helping In Radiation Therapy

Intestinal fungus and bacteria have opposing roles in controlling the effectiveness of the anti-tumor immune response following radiation therapy, according to a Cedars-Sinai cancer study.

Gut Fungi And How It Is Helping In Radiation Therapy

The research, which was published in the journal Cancer Cell on Aug. 13, expands on previous research that looked at the function of gut bacteria in immune responses to chemotherapy and immunotherapy. The researchers wanted to know what function bacteria and fungus in the stomach could have in how the body reacts to radiation therapy.

Gut Fungi And How It Is Helping In Radiation Therapy

The research results are much encouraging said one of the team members. We have found functions that can help the overall human body immune system and in the case of radiation therapy, the same is compromised to a great extent. To boost the overall immunity we researched on gut fungi and other bacteria in the stomach which can help recover the body well and prevent the tumor reactions of the body which is much needed in many of the patients.

According to a Cedars-Sinai cancer study, intestinal fungus and bacteria have conflicting roles in regulating the efficacy of the anti-tumor immune response following radiation therapy. On August 13, the journal Cancer Cell published a study that looked at the role of gut bacteria in immune responses to chemotherapy and immunotherapy. To find out what role bacteria and fungi in the stomach may have in the body’s response to radiotherapy, researchers looked at the stomach.

According to Stephen L. Shiao, MD, Ph.D., director of the Division of Radiation Biology, and main author of the study, scientists have long known that bacteria in the gut impact the immune system. “We now think that gut bacteria and fungus have a yin-yang connection. Antibiotic usage, for example, depletes bacteria, upsetting the equilibrium in the microbiome—the body’s population of bacteria, fungus, and perhaps other microorganisms. The result is that fungus can grow, and the anti-tumor immune response is suppressed.”

As Shiao said, over half of all cancer patients, including those with brain, lung, breast, and gynecological cancers, get radiation therapy as part of their treatment regimens. Breast cancer and melanoma were both affected by gut bacteria and fungus, according to Shiao, an associate professor of Radiation Oncology & Biomedical Sciences at Cedars-Sinai Cancer. According to the researchers, “this suggests that gut bacteria and fungus impact anti-tumor inflammatory cells in many, if not all, kinds of cancer.” Radiation therapy intended towards other organ tumors can be affected by bacteria and fungus in the stomach, which may seem strange. These connections have their origins in cancer biology and the immune system.

When cells in the body multiply and divide uncontrolled, cancer develops. Immune cells patrol the body, looking for and eliminating tumor cells. The microbiota influences this immune response. Immune cells have sensors that identify certain pathogens and trigger different reactions. Dectin-1, a sensor developed by the researchers, recognizes a sugar present solely on the surface of fungus, which triggers a brake signal, shutting down an immune response.

Although the majority of the research was done on mice, the Cedars-Sinai researchers also looked at the amount of Dectin-1 in patients with breast cancers. They discovered that greater Dectin-1 expression was related to worse survival, indicating that this sensor may serve a similar role in cancer patients.

In the future, the researchers want to describe the variety of gut microorganisms in cancer patients receiving therapy in order to better understand how gut microbiota, such as bacteria and fungus, impact cancer treatments. The objective is to discover the optimal method for optimizing both the bacterial and fungal microbiomes in order to enhance anti-tumor immune responses.

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