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Biotech firms race to recruit good bugs in war on cancer

Biotech companies are competing to develop medicines using “bugs as drugs” to fight cancer, building on the latest scientific findings that patients with high levels of good gut bacteria are more likely to respond to modern immunotherapy.

Certain bacteria seem to help in cancer by priming immune cells and smoothing the path for immunotherapy drugs known as PD-1 drugs that work by taking the brakes off the immune system.

Seres Therapeutics hopes to become the first company to leverage this discovery through a collaboration with the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy that will see its microbe medicine tested in a clinical trial.

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