this probiotic suppresses colon cancer cells

Our gut bacteria can help us fight colon cancer

With probiotics and prebiotics gaining interest in the world of human health, scientists are working towards creative and exciting ways of using probiotics.

The human digestive tract contains around 1014 bacteria, and they have crucial roles in human health and disease. Many scientists have been focusing on regulating the gut microbiota to treat diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and colon cancer.


Tumor associated bacteria


Here are some cool techniques that have been tried to treat colon cancer

However, there are some problems with this approach: 

  1. Every microbiome is unique and is impossible to standardize it (for now)
  2. There can be harmful bacteria in the mixture


Some examples of probiotics with beneficial gut health properties

The use of probiotics is a good alternative as they have been considered safe for humans and can be standardized. For example:

A big disadvantage of using probiotic bacteria is that it is difficult to produce sufficient health benefits on their own. A combination of probiotics and other strategies should be the way to move forward.


Tumor-associated bacteria 2


A New prebiotic and probiotic mixture that targets colon cancer cells

Researchers at Wuhan University (China) have created a symbiotic intending to treat colon cancer. This symbiotic includes chemically modified prebiotics that is used to feed probiotic bacteria. 


They first analyzed the microbiota composition of tumors of colon cancer patients

They found out that many bacteria from the genus Clostridiaceae and Clostridium were present in these tumors. Because one of the widely commercially used probiotic bacteria is Clostridium butyricum, they chose this probiotic for targeting colon tumors. 

This probiotic bacterium is even more special!

It can form spores, which are tiny parts of the bacterium very resistant to environmental factors and from which new bacteria can grow. The researchers used C. butyricum spores instead of the living bacteria to increase the chances of this bacteria surviving the harsh environment of the stomach and reaching the gut.

Researchers also added prebiotics to the mixture

To help the new bacteria that arise from the spores in the gut, researchers attached specific prebiotic fibers to the spores themselves (β-cyclodextrin and adamantine). These fibers also enhance the adhesion of the spores to the tumor cells.


Colon cancer targeting probiotics


These engineered spores produce SCFAs with anti-cancer properties

The spores were administered orally. Once the spores reach the anaerobic environment of the gut (low oxygen), the spores “revive”, use up the prebiotic food, and colonize the tumor tissue specifically. As a byproduct of using the prebiotic fibers, the bacteria produce SCFA, which has anti-cancer properties.

Anti-cancer drugs can also be attached to the spores

And what is even more interesting, scientists can also attach anti-cancer drugs to the spores! As a result, these spores can have even greater anti-cancer potential.

These spores can modulate the tumor-related microbiota

Researchers have found that these spores can also modulate the tumor-related microbiota towards a more anti-tumor type.


In conclusion, Zheng et al., have designed a new and exciting tool whereby probiotics can be used to target and inhibit cancer cells in the colon of mice. The use of probiotic spores is safe, thus enabling this therapeutic strategy to move rapidly forward to be used in clinical trials. 

You can read the full article here.

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