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In The Fight Against Cancer, Roche And AstraZeneca Are Looking At Trillions Of Bacteria That Live In The Body

In The Fight Against Cancer, Roche And AstraZeneca Are Looking At Trillions Of Bacteria That Live In The Body

Top scientists at Roche Holding Ltd. (ADR) (OTC: RHHBY) and AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE: AZN) are studying the possibilities of using bacteria in gut to fight cancer, according to a report on Bloomberg.

Drugmakers are showing interest in the human microbiome -- the universe of roughly 100 trillion good and bad bacteria, fungi and viruses that live on and inside the body.

"Five years ago, if you had asked me about bacteria in your gut playing an important role in your systemic immune response, I probably would have laughed it off," Daniel Chen, head of cancer immunotherapy research at Roche's Genentech division, said in a phone interview to Bloomberg. "Most of us immunologists now believe that there really is an important interaction there."

Related Link: GW Pharma Shares Double Following Positive Epidiolex Trial

The report said two recent studies published in the journal Science have intrigued Chen and others who are developing medicines called immunotherapies that stimulate the body's ability to fight tumors.

In November, University of Chicago researchers wrote that giving mice Bifidobacterium, which normally resides in the gastrointestinal tract, was as effective as an immunotherapy in controlling the growth of skin cancer; Combining the two practically eliminated tumor growth.

In the second study, scientists in France found that some bacterial species activated a response to immunotherapy, which didn't occur without the microbes.

Roche is already undertaking basic research in the field and plans to investigate the microbiome's potential for cancer treatment, the report said.

ADRs of Roche were recently up 0.51 percent at $31.41, while Astrazeneca shares were down 0.68 percent at $29.37.

Posted-In: Bloomberg cancer CNBC Daniel ChenBiotech Health Care Media General Best of Benzinga


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