In what outside experts called the most rigorous and comprehensive survey of bacteria in human tumor samples, scientists have discovered distinct populations of microbes living inside different types of tumors: In other words, breast and brain and pancreatic tumors have their own characteristic microbiomes.

Recent research has revealed an intriguing relationship between microbes and cancer, including how bacteria in the gut can affect the way immunotherapies like checkpoint inhibitors or even standard chemotherapy work to shrink tumors. Now the new paper suggests the bacterial communities within tumors could be exploited to devise a new form of targeted therapies, in the same way we now develop drugs based on the molecular features of a tumor. 

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Elizabeth Cooney

General Assignment Reporter

Liz is a general assignment reporter.

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