Cancer treatments often take a huge toll on the patient’s body, causing adverse side effects such as blood clots, nausea and vomiting, hair loss, lymphedema and neutropenia. Neutropenia refers to the loss of neutrophils, which are a type of white blood cell. In severe neutropenia cases, patients develop a fever.
New research has linked this fever to bacteria in the gut known as Akkermansia muciniphila (A. muciniphila). The study was led by a team of researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. It involved analyzing fecal samples collected from 119 patients who were undergoing stem cell transplantation. This procedure refers to the transplantation of stem cells to replicate the inside of a patient and help produce additional normal blood cells. It is usually performed after radiation and chemotherapy.
The researchers discovered that over the first days of neutropenia, most patients who developed the fever had an increased abundance of Bacteroides genera and muciniphila in their gut microbiomes. Both bacteria degrade a key component of the mucus layer, known as mucin.
The researchers then used mice models to determine if chemotherapy or radiation therapy altered the microbiome composition in mice. They discovered that these microbes thinned the mucus layer and, in turn, exposed hosts to bacterial infections.
Jennifer Karmouch, the study’s coauthor, stated that the mucus layer worked as an intestinal barrier. She explained that this thinning made it easier for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause an infection. This, Karmouch noted, was likely why some patients developed the fever.
In their report, the researchers also highlighted that A. muciniphila levels alone couldn’t forecast whether a patient with neutropenia would develop a fever. In addition, the researchers conducted an additional experiment examining the microbiomes of healthy mice on a calorie-restricted diet that hadn’t been exposed to cytotoxic cancer therapies.
This was based on the discovery that mice which received radiation therapy ate less food. Loss of appetite is a common side effect of cancer treatments.
The researchers found that in comparison to the healthy mice, levels of A. municiphila and Bacteroides increased a few days after undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. These changes, they noted, were accompanied by a thinner mucus layer in the colon, as shown by histological analyses.
Bacteroids are a gram-negative bacteria found in the colon that play various roles in the gut microbiome.
The study’s findings were reported in “Science Translational Medicine,” with researchers noting that the findings could be helpful in determining ways to prevent these cancer treatment-related fevers in humans.
All this new information coming to light about cancer and the effects of its treatment, coupled with the drug development work being undertaken by enterprises such as QSAM Biosciences Inc. (OTCQB: QSAM), suggests that the new generation of cancer therapies could be more effective and offer a superior safety profile when compared to current treatments.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to QSAM Biosciences Inc. (OTCQB: QSAM) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/QSAM
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