NCI scientists found that tumors of germ-free mice (mice completely lacking these microorganisms), or mice treated with antibiotics to deplete the gut of bacteria, were largely impaired in their ability to respond to immunotherapy that slows cancer growth and prolongs survival. The mice were also impaired in their ability to respond to mainstay chemotherapy drugs such as oxaliplatin and cisplatin. These findings in mice may underscore the importance of microorganisms in optimal cancer treatment outcomes in humans. The study, led by Romina Goldszmid, Ph.D., staff scientist, NCI, and Giorgio Trinchieri, M.D., director of the Cancer and Inflammation Program, Center for Cancer Research, NCI, appeared Nov. 22, 2013, in Science.
Image of a Evolutionary tree of mouse gut bacteria superimposed over an image of colon tissue with larger circles indicating greater abundance of bacteria. Red circles are bacteria that prime mice to respond to immunotherapy; green shows bacteria that suppress anti-tumor response to the drug.
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