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Diagnostics Microbiology and immunology, Microbiology and immunology, Oncology, Omics

Gut Feeling

Chemotherapy can come with a range of side effects, including severe diarrhea. Oral antibiotics can be used to reduce toxicity by protecting against infection and increasing the capacity to metabolize dietary substrates, but the indiscriminate depletion of gut microbes can directly impact the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. Libusha Kelly, Assistant Professor in the departments of Systems and Computational Biology and Microbiology and Immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, has been studying how the microbiome can influence the likelihood of chemotherapy side effects.

Kelly and coworkers focused on irinotecan (CPT-11), which, in combination with fluorouracil and leucovorin, is one of three first-line treatments for metastatic colorectal cancer. Severe diarrhea only seems to affect a subset of individuals taking the drugs – 30 to 40 percent when administered as a single agent, and 11 to 37 percent when used along with other therapeutics.

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About the Author

James Strachan

Over the course of my Biomedical Sciences degree it dawned on me that my goal of becoming a scientist didn’t quite mesh with my lack of affinity for lab work. Thinking on my decision to pursue biology rather than English at age 15 – despite an aptitude for the latter – I realized that science writing was a way to combine what I loved with what I was good at.
From there I set out to gather as much freelancing experience as I could, spending 2 years developing scientific content for International Innovation, before completing an MSc in Science Communication. After gaining invaluable experience in supporting the communications efforts of CERN and IN-PART, I joined Texere – where I am focused on producing consistently engaging, cutting-edge and innovative content for our specialist audiences around the world.

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