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Fundamental research

27 - 05 - 2018

Gut microbiota and liver cancer

Basic research has found in mice a mechanism that links the gut microbiota to immune resistance to liver cancer.
Studies that have attempted to understand the relationships between gut microbiota and liver cancer have so far failed. But a team of researchers has just published the results of a set of studies in the mouse.
In three mouse liver cancer models they first found that a cocktail of antibiotics that reduced intestinal microbiota was associated with fewer and smaller liver tumors, and a decrease in the number of metastases.
They then observed that in animals that received antibiotics, the number of liver NKT immune cells was greater and that liver cancer resistance was related to the presence of these NKT cells.
Then they understood that it is the protein CXCL16 in the liver that caused the accumulation of NKT cells and that the expression of this protein was linked to the presence of certain bile acids produced by certain bacteria in the intestine. The link between microbiota and liver cancer resistance was thus pu forwards.
This is the first time that the whole mechanism that links intestinal microbiota and cancer resistance was discovered. This preliminary discovery could be used in patients.
This discovery stems from fundamental research and reminds us that basic research is the main source of therapeutic progress.