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2013-12-09

Biotransformation of Chemotherapeutic Agents (The Role of Gut Microbes)

Biotransformation!
A couple years ago I wrote in a post my experience with biotransformation of active compounds by intestinal microbes. Here's a study that shows the importance of these bacteria in the efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents.

According to this study on mice, researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the US found that tumors of bacteria-free mice (mice completely lacking these microorganisms), or mice treated with antibiotics to deplete the gut of bacteria, showed an impaired response to immunotherapy that slows cancer growth and prolongs survival. The mice also had an impaired ability to respond to popular chemotherapy drugs such as oxaliplatin and cisplatin.

These findings in mice may indicate the importance of microorganisms in the optimal response to cancer treatment in humans. As I mentioned in my previous post discussing biotransformation, humans harbour microorganism in the gut that can not only influence local and whole-body health and disease, but these little friends can also modify the tumour microenvironment (which consists of a variety of cell types, signaling molecules, and other mechanisms that may support tumour growth and/or influence drug resistance.
The study should also enlighten those more recently coming to understand the importance of living in a germ-filled world. The antibacterial craze has destroyed the health of too many people, and continues to damage our environment as these chemicals persist in the soil and water. The researchers also point out that their present study has confirmed, that after antibiotic treatment the bacterial composition in the gut never returns to its initial composition. That's a big problem!

The probiotic industry has great products to boost the microbial content of the gut after antibiotic use, but it's ignorant to think these products can return the gut to its pre-antibiotic health.

So stop using antibacterial products, and use antibiotics only when absolutely needed.

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