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Intestinal bacteria can resist the treatment of prostate cancer

October 15, 2021 – a pillar of treatment for prostate cancer is to deprive it androgenic, the hormones that make it grow. The testes are the main source of these hormones, so the treatment may consist of surgical removal of these organs or the use of medicines to block their hormone production.

Over time, some prostate cancer becomes resistant to these treatments and begins to spread again. As with many cancers that show this behavior, it can be difficult to find exactly what makes it resistant.

The culprit may be bacteria that live in the intestines. Researchers have found that some of these are found in castrated mice and in people with androgen deprivation therapy. gut bacteria begins with the production of androgens that are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. According to these new findings,published in the journal Science, the androgens apparently support the growth of prostate cancer and its resistance to treatment.

This study is the first to show that bacteria can produce testosterone, although researchers are not yet sure what leads them to do so. Treatment with androgen deprivation can also lead to more of these hormone-producing microbes in the gut, the results suggest. Fecal bacteria from men with treatment-resistant prostate cancer have also been shown to be associated with a lower life expectancy.

Fecal transplants of mice with treatment-resistant prostate cancer can cause resistance in animals with diseases that are susceptible to these hormones. When these mice received fecal transplants from people with resistant cancer, the effect was the same: a shift to treatment resistance.

But the reverse was also true: Fecal transplants of mice or people with hormone-sensitive cancers contributed to limiting tumor growth.

The findings may suggest new therapeutic targets: the microbes that live in the gut. In mouse studies, the researchers found that the cancer, if they eradicated these bacteria, was much slower to progress to treatment resistance. Authors of a comments accompanying the study says there are other places to look for bacteria that can also produce these hormones, including the urinary tract or even in the tumor itself.

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