The presence of intestinal bacteria may improve the efficacy of chemotherapies containing alkylating agents such as cyclophosphamide, according to a study published in Immunity.1

The role of bacteria in the development of cancer is largely unknown, though microbes are shown to contribute to genetic instability in colon cancer and hepatocarcinoma.2 Researchers identified 2 “oncomicrobiotics,” defined as “immunogenic commensals influencing the host-cancer equilibrium,” which may affect the efficacy of chemotherapy.

T cell activity was evaluated in 38 patients with lung or ovarian cancer. Enterococcus hirae and Barnesiella intestinihominis were shown to activate T cells, helping the body to fight cancer cells more effectively, particularly among patients with lung or ovarian cancer.

Continue Reading

RELATED: Obese Patients Receiving Unadjusted Dose-dense Chemotherapy at Risk for Toxicities

Patients with terminal cancer resistant to chemotherapy had longer progression-free survival if the immune response associated with the bacteria was exhibited.

The authors conclude that oncomicrobiotics should be evaluated as a component to anti-cancer treatments.


  1. Daillere R, Vetizou M, Waldschmitt N, et al. Enterococcus hirae and Barnesiella intestinihominis facilitate cyclophosphamide-induced therapeutic immunomodulatory effects. Immunity. 2016 Oct 4. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2016.09.009 [Epub ahead of print]