As our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, we must take care of ourselves by leading healthy lifestyles. We should never indulge in activities or eat food that will damage our bodies. Instead, we should eat wholesome food, exercise regularly, and pray to God every day so that he will bless us with healthy lives.
Cancer is such a deadly disease that it has claimed the lives of millions of people all over the world. As cancer has become a global epidemic, people have been pouring in billions of dollars every year to combat this disease. Every time you read about cancer research from any media outlet, it is quite common to come across the terminology “breakthrough.” In fact, every time there is some significant development in cancer research, you will hear the word “breakthrough.”
However, there has been some recent development in one area of cancer research that deserves the use of this word. Also known as I-O, immune-oncology, or immunotherapy, the progress researchers have been making in this field is simply unbelievable.
Researchers have spent countless hours of their lives in this field to make significant progress. The idea behind immunotherapy is to use the immune system of the body to fight cancer. Although there has been a lot of research in this field, it has been quite difficult to make progress. The main reason is that every time the researchers are just about to make a theory practical, they face obstacles.
When people get cancer, it is as though their immune system stops functioning like it should when there are intruder cells. Initially, the scientists assumed that the reason the immune system stopped working was that it didn’t have any fuel to fight this disease.
To ensure the immune system has plenty of fuel to combat cancer, scientists started pumping it with cytokines (specifically interleukins). They also used interferon, which is a protein that signals the immune system to gear up and fight the disease. Although these methods gave the immune system vast amounts of power, it didn’t retaliate against cancer.
Then the researchers realized that they needed to give the immune system a push in the right direction for it to start waging war against cancer. They tried various techniques such as combing different varieties of immune cells and directing them towards tumors with the help of protein markers. They even used antibodies that seek antigen to kickstart the fight against cancer. Despite all their efforts, the cancer cells didn’t face any resistance from the body’s immune system.
Jim Allison, a cancer researcher from Texas, came up with a different way to beat cancer. According to Jim, the reason why the immune system wasn’t doing its job was that it was locked. If the researchers could unlock the immune system and direct it towards the cancer cells, it should do the trick.
Jim’s approach to destroying cancer cells led to the development of checkpoint inhibitors and drugs that can unlock the immune system. Even though the researchers were able to cure the disease in a handful of cases, this treatment wasn’t successful to a vast majority of patients.
Researchers then realized that they need to point the immune system to the right place so that it will begin eliminating cancer cells from the body. With the help of CAR-T cell, there was some success in this method. Researchers found out that it wasn’t the fuel or the push or the direction or the fact that the immune system was locked which stopped it from fighting the cancer cells. They figured out that the bacteria were responsible for the immune system’s inability to respond against cancer cells.
They were finally able to crack the case against eliminating cancer by conducting various studies which proved the impact of intestinal flora in immunotherapy. Out of all the studies and reports, research scientist and surgeon at M.D. Anderson, Dr. Jennifer Wargo, in collaboration with several doctors were able to show how the composition of the cancer patient’s microbiota in the gut will unlock the immune system to start the war against the intruders.
According to that study, patients that had larger quantities of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, a Ruminococcaceae microbe were more successful in responding to cancer treatments. However, if patients had high amounts of Bacteroidales, it did more harm than good.
Dr. Jennifer Wargo said, “I don’t think it’s one bacteria per se that’s driving this entire response. I think it’s probably a community of bacteria. And what we found is that, in patients who responded to the treatment, they actually had a much higher diversity of bacteria in their gut microbiomes compared to non-responders.”
With the right composition of gut flora, the T-cells had higher activation rates. However, if the patient had a lot of Bacteroidales, it had a negative impact on the activation rates of T-cells. The researchers then transplanted the patient’s’ fecal samples to mice that were germ-free.
Dr. Jennifer Wargo had the following to say, “Essentially reconstituting the mice’s gut microbiomes with a responding patient’s microbiome. They discovered that the mice had better immunity. And then, when we put a melanoma tumor into those mice, they either were very slow to grow or were completely rejected. They also had phenomenal response to treatment with the anti–PD-1-based therapy [the checkpoint inhibitor]. Whereas when we transplanted the mice with a fecal sample from a non-responding patient, they had poor immune function after the transplant.”
Dr. Jennifer Wargo also said, “It also brings in the question of diet. Could it be that patients who have a fiber-rich diet with more whole grains—that is, with a more microbiome-friendly diet—might do better on cancer treatment? And could such a diet help facilitate and enhance the immune system such that you might be able to ultimately prevent cancer?”
Although Jennifer Wargo believes that diet has a role to play, she doesn’t want cancer patients to change their daily intake of nutrition without consulting the doctors.
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