What does the microbiome (the millions of bacteria) in your gut have to do with the effectiveness of treatment for prostate cancer? Probably much more than we realize, says Brady scientist Karen Sfanos, Ph.D.
“The gut microbiome can influence cancer therapy by its ability to chemically modify drugs.” This relationship works both ways: “Cancer-fighting drugs can also alter the composition of the bacterial species that live in the gut – and this, in turn, may affect how well that treatment works.”
In a recent study, Sfanos and colleagues were the first to examine the relationship between the gut microbiome and types of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) used to treat advanced prostate cancer. “We found that there are measurable differences in the gut microbiome between men taking oral formulations of these medications and men who were not taking them,” she says. The gut bacteria may not only influence clinical responses to ADT; it also might modulate the anti-tumor effects of other drugs for advanced prostate cancer, including immunotherapy.
Further work is needed, but if additional studies prove that the gut bacteria can help determine how men respond to prostate cancer treatment, it may be that targeting the gut microbiome – in the form of prebiotics, probiotics, or even fecal transplant – may make ADT and other forms of treatment much more effective. This research was published in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.