According to Megan Rossi, who researches gut health at Kings College London, the microbiome holds vast potential for improving cancer treatment.
“We know that around 70 per cent of our immune system is located in our gut,” she says. “The gut microbes are very important in regulating the immune system, …. It’s looking like we can predict who will respond to different therapies based on the types of microbes they have in their gut.”
Faecal transplants involves taking stool samples from a healthy individual and transplanting that faecal matter into the gut of an ill patient. The advantage is that it transfers an entire community of microbes and their synergistic interactions in one go.
Such is the interest in faecal transplantation that Rossi says her colleagues at KCL are currently working to identify so-called “super donors”, whose stool samples contain a particularly healthy composition of microbes, which could then be used to help chronically ill patients.
Rossi cautions that this research is still in its infancy in the cancer world – it is more advanced for treating conditions such as inflammatory bowel syndrome – and many more trials need to be done to investigate further. But she envisions a future in which faecal pills from super donors could be used in place of transplants, to boost response rates.
But as the evidence continues to accumulate about the role that our gut health plays in our susceptibility to disease, how can all of us ensure that we have a healthier microbiome?
“Getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night is key, but so is eating more plants, and more diverse plants, which feeds the different species of bacteria,” Rossi says. “I think that’s something we don’t do very well in the UK. We kind of stick to the same things, but there’s actually six different varieties of plants, from wholegrains to nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables and spices. People who enjoy all six have better gut health than those who eat the same type of plants.”
Read the full article here The Telegraph