(Super) bacterium may help better predict effectiveness of lung cancer treatment
Predicting the effectiveness of treatments for diseases such as cancer is no easy task. This may all change thanks to promising research on the bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila (Akk). Further details on this (very) beneficial bacterium below.
About this article
Immunotherapy is now a common treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, only 35% of patients experience long-term benefits from this treatment. Identifying biomarkers of response to immunotherapy may thus improve patients’ chances of survival.
Akkermansia muciniphila under the spotlight
Researchers at the Gustave Roussy Cancer Institute in France had already shown that the presence of Akkermansia in the gut microbiota was associated with clinical benefits in patients treated with immunotherapy.
The work of Lisa Derosa’s team, the results of which were published in prestigious medical journal Nature Medicine in 2022, goes one step further. The team investigated Akkermansia’s potential as a predictive marker of survival and response to immunotherapy among NSCLC patients.
They monitored 338 patients undergoing immunotherapy for four years :
- 131 had Akkermansia in their gut flora (Akk+)
- and 207 did not (Akk-). Their conclusions are very promising.
The gut microbiota
Better patient survival
The first finding was that patients with Akkermansia in their microbiota responded better to treatment: the Akk+ group had an overall survival of 18.8 months, compared to 15.4 months for the Akk- group.
Another finding was that, unlike the Akk- group, the Akk+ patients had greater microbial diversity in their microbiota, which included bacteria with recognized beneficial effects on health and immune status, such as bifidobacteria, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Eubacterium hallii.
Unsurprisingly, antibiotic use had an adverse effect on overall survival for both the Akk+ and Akk- groups, confirming the link between the use of antibiotics and a poor clinical outcome.
Akkermansia is therefore of major interest. The bacterium may offer a new therapeutic approach targeting the microbiota, thus giving hope to NSCLC patients.
To be continued.