Immunotherapy could be thought of as a ‘natural’ way to fight disease, though that is not entirely accurate. Essentially, it immunotherapy alters the immune system in some way to create more ideal situations to deal with infections. Activation immunotherapies involve boosting the immune system so that it is more alert and effective, while suppression immunotherapies do the opposite. In the case of cancer, the goal with immunotherapy is to stimulate the body into attacking the tumors; if this were to become widely successful, it would likely be a vast improvement over chemotherapy, which kills healthy cells along with cancerous ones.
Along with the belief that all bacteria are bad due to their infectious nature, there is a sort of reverence for antibiotics as a go-to for every problem. While it’s true that antibiotics save lives every year, they’re not the only option for treatment, nor are they always the best option, either; bacteria can sometimes grow resistant to certain antibiotic treatments, especially if the full course of antibiotics is not taken as prescribed. However, antibiotics also have another drawback; they do not discriminate between good bacteria and bad bacteria, which means any dose of antibiotics is killing off good bacteria too.
5. The French Study
Researchers in Paris, France, studied about 250 patients who had lung or kidney cancer. For these patients, they took note of whether or not they had taken antibiotics recently. Antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections anywhere in the body treat bacterial presence everywhere in the body; therefore, even antibacterial procedures that were unrelated to gut health, such as dental infections, were recorded as a variable among some of the patients in the study. As it turns out, these unrelated infections, or at least the treatment of them, led to some significant differences among the patients in terms of study results.
Among the immunotherapy patients, those who had previously taken antibiotics for infections were more likely than those who had not to see the growth of tumors. For those who responded well to immunotherapy treatments, the biggest difference may have been the presence of Akkermansia muciniphila. This particular species was present in nearly 70% of the patients who did well with immunotherapy. By contrast, in those for whom immunotherapy proved less effective, A. muciniphila was only present in approximately one-third of the population. Similar trials with mice have yielded similar results, suggesting that A. muciniphila may work for cancer immunotherapy.