Diet, Gut Microbes Affect Effectiveness of Cancer Treatment, Research Reveals

Eyleen O’Rourke, UVA assistant professor of biology, says that by modulating the microbes that live in our gut, there is enormous potential to improve treatment outcomes.

What we eat can affect the outcome of chemotherapy – and likely many other medical treatments – because of ripple effects that begin in our gut, new research from the University of Virginia suggests.

Scientists found that diet can cause microbes in the gut to trigger changes in the host’s response to a chemotherapy drug. Common components of our daily diets (for example, amino acids) could either increase or decrease both the effectiveness and toxicity of the drugs used for cancer treatment, the researchers found.

The discovery opens an important new avenue of medical research. It could have major implications for predicting the right dose and better controlling the side effects of chemotherapy, the researchers report. The finding also may help explain differences seen in patient responses to chemotherapy that have baffled doctors until now.

Read the full article at UVA Today, 6/2/20.

Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications, and article by Josh Barney.