Yogurt: Tasty and Combating Cancer?

Laura Conway (3 PM Micro) found this article describing recent research about the normal intestinal microbiota, and a surprising role that these bacteria might play in helping the body to resist some forms of cancer. Here is Laura’s summary:

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer every four minutes, forty-one percent of those with Myeloma will survive, fifty-seven percent diagnosed with Leukemia will survive, and seventy to eighty-six percent of patients with Lymphoma will survive. Survival becomes a possibility with bone marrow transplants. Patients with leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma are treated with donated bone marrow from a blood relative or an unrelated donor with the same tissue type, this is known as an “allogenic” transplant. While bone marrow transplants are successful, complications often occur.

One of the major complications of bone marrow transplants is that the donated cells can attack normal healthy cells. The cancer cells are the target, but occasionally the donated cells will generate an immune attack against healthy cells in the patient as well. This attack is known as “graft-versus-host disease” and occurs before day 100 of post-transplant. GVHD occurs in the GI tract in twenty-five to forty percent of patients who undergo the allogenic procedure. Normal, but opportunistic microbiota, such as Escherichia coli, Enterococci, and Lactobacilli living in the colon begin to invade other areas of the body, causing severe infections due to the malfunctions in the GI tract, but the destruction does not stop there. GVHD can also infect the liver and other organs, so investigators at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey are examining how to treat and prevent the disease. Their research has lead them to the relationship between bone marrow transplant patients and probiotics.

GVHD is a serious, life threatening infection that may, according to the scientists at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey be combated by probiotic Lactobacillus. Investigators, being led by Roger Stair, MD, PhD, and chief of hematologic malignancies/hematopoietic stem cell transplantation at NJ’s Cancer Institute, are currently testing their plan of action known as “PERFECT” (Probiotic Enteric Regimen For Easing Complications of Transplant). Plan “PERFECT” has received a generous amount of support from the Steven and Beverly Rubinstein Charitable Foundation allowing the Cancer Institution to continue further research with their main goal being to identify methods to prevent and treat the GVHD infection. The current standard for GVHD prevention is prophylaxis with immunosuppressive drugs such as cyclosporin and methotrexate. The recent use of synergism has shown to be effective but not one hundred percent. Most hospitals are currently treating patients who fall ill with GVHD with “ancillary therapy and supportive care”, according to the National Marrow Donor Program.


About ycpmicro

My name is David Singleton, and I am an Associate Professor of Microbiology at York College of Pennsylvania. My main course is BIO230, a course taken by allied-health students at YCP. Views on this site are my own.

Posted on April 3, 2013, in Guest Post. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Yogurt: Tasty and Combating Cancer?.

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