An international team of researchers have found that the bacteria in the gut and tumors can affect how well someone responds to treatment for mesothelioma.
The researchers looked at data from 86 patients with malignant mesothelioma. They studied the different types of bacteria in their tumors and how it affected their survival rates.
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the lining of organs like the lungs and abdominal cavity. It usually has a poor prognosis and limited treatment options. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos.
Conventional treatment for malignant mesothelioma typically includes chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. The exact treatment plan will depend on many factors. Doctors will consider the type of mesothelioma, the condition of the patient, and how much the cancer has spread.
There has been a growing interest in immunotherapy as a treatment option, as well. Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses the patient’s immune system to fight their cancer.
Some studies of immunotherapy have shown that the treatment is not always effective. One reason for this could be a patient’s gut bacteria, called the microbiota.
The microbiota is a large collection of good bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other organisms in our bodies. When it’s in balance, it helps keep our body healthy and our immune system strong. But when bad bacteria take over, it can lead to diseases, including cancer.
In the last ten years, studies have found that there are also bacteria in tumors that can affect how they grow and how well they respond to treatment. But there hasn’t been a lot of research on how this affects mesothelioma, a type of cancer.
Gut Bacteria Play a Role
To look at the effect of bacteria on mesothelioma survival, researchers used patient data from the cBioPortal database.
The researchers in this study found 107 types of bacteria that were linked to better or worse survival rates in mesothelioma patients.
They also found that these types of bacteria were linked to how the body uses fats for energy. The researchers think that studying the bacteria in tumors could be helpful in predicting how well someone will do with treatment.
“This foundation will improve understanding of how the microbiome is relevant in [malignant mesothelioma] and may lead to improved patient outcomes,” say the researchers.
Pentimalli F, Krstic-Demonacos M, Costa C, Mutti L, Bakker EY. Intratumor microbiota as a novel potential prognostic indicator in mesothelioma. Front Immunol. 2023;14:1129513. Published 2023 Mar 14. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2023.1129513. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10043377/