K-State Graduate Student Investigates Gut Microbes’ Role in Colon Cancer Treatment Enhancement

By Trish Svoboda

According to the World Health Organization, colorectal cancer ranks as the third most prevalent cancer globally. In response, a graduate student from Kansas State University is conducting research to enhance the efficacy of colon cancer treatment.

The human gut hosts numerous microbes, each possessing a unique microbial profile much like a fingerprint. However, this microbial diversity poses challenges, as interactions between cancer drugs and gut microbes can result in adverse reactions or diminished drug effectiveness.

Personalized medicine, which tailors cancer care plans to individual factors, offers the greatest potential for successful cancer treatment. Scientists like Tanner Richie, a doctoral student in biology at K-State, aim to refine personalized medicine by assessing the factors influencing colon cancer outcomes.

Monitoring changes in gut microbes can help detect chronic inflammatory conditions that may predispose individuals to colon cancer. Richie’s thesis project, titled “Maintaining balance in the microverse: Investigating microbial impacts on host gut inflammation,” delves into the interactions between various intestinal microbes and the human body.

While scientists have long recognized the role of gut microbes in health and illness, Richie’s research indicates that specific microbes may influence the likelihood of developing colon cancer. In addition, his work explores how these microbes contribute to colon inflammation and compete against healthy microbial populations.

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