Bacteria live on us and in us. We are starting to learn just how much of our biology and health they control.
Gut bacteria have now been linked to the development of cancer and some of them seem to be able to control how cancer cells respond to chemotherapy. Research with colon cancer has shown that a particular type of bacterium, F. nucleatum, prevents cancer cells that have been exposed to chemotherapy drugs from dying. Instead, the cells enter a survival program.
Manipulating bacterial populations is likely to become an important component of cancer prevention and treatment.