The microbiome, cancer, and cancer therapy

Nat Med. 2019 Mar;25(3):377-388. doi: 10.1038/s41591-019-0377-7. Epub 2019 Mar 6.


With the advent of next-generation sequencing, we have an unprecedented ability to study tumor and host genomes as well as those of the vast array of microorganisms that exist within living organisms. Evidence now suggests that these microbes may confer susceptibility to certain cancers and may also influence response to therapeutics. A prime example of this is seen with immunotherapy, for which gut microbes have been implicated in influencing therapeutic responses in preclinical models and patient cohorts. However, these microbes may influence responses to other forms of therapy as well and may also affect treatment-associated toxicity. Based on these influences, there is growing interest in targeting these microbes in the treatment of cancer and other diseases. Yet complexities exist, and a deeper understanding of host-microbiome interactions is critical to realization of the full potential of such approaches. These concepts and the means through which such findings may be translated into the clinic will be discussed herein.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dysbiosis / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics*
  • Genome, Bacterial / genetics
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Microbiota / genetics
  • Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy