Accumulating evidence demonstrates that intestinal bacteria influence oncogenesis, tumor progression, and response to therapy. Thus, selectively manipulating the gut microbiota may represent a feasible means to limit the incidence of specific tumors in the general population and/or improve the activity of various anticancer agents.
Although the first possibility has been investigated in several models of oncogenesis with promising results, the actual oncopreventive effects of anti-, pre-, pro-, and postbiotics in humans remain to be established. Conversely, selectively manipulating the composition of the gut microbiota as a gateway to optimal responses to chemo-, radio-, or immunotherapy in the clinic is a relatively new concept, and additional studies are required to understand the clinical value of such an approach.
In this context, the limited selectivity of most conventional antibiotics and the elevated interindividual heterogeneity of the gut microbiota may constitute major obstacles. Highly specific antimicrobials such as bacteriocins and the development of new technologies allowing for the rapid in-depth characterization of the gut microbiota on a personalized basis may circumvent these issues, at least in part. Modulating the gut microbiota may constitute a viable strategy for improving the clinical efficacy of anticancer chemo-, radio-, and immunotherapy.
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