UofL researchers show gut metabolite improves chemotherapy response in resistant colon cancer

Venkatakrishna Rao Jala, Ph.D.

By Betty Coffman

A study by UofL researchers has shown that a metabolite produced by gut microbes from a component found in pomegranates and berries can help improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy used to treat colorectal cancer. Venkatakrishna Rao Jala, UofL associate professor of microbiology and immunology, led the research, which was published in the journal Theranostics this month.

A major challenge in treating colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., is that the cancer cells can become resistant to the chemotherapies that treat them. In a pre-clinical study, Jala and his team found that using Urolithin A (UroA) and its potent structural analogue UAS03 in combination with the anti-cancer drug 5-fluorouracil, improves effectiveness of the drug by sensitizing the cancer cells to the drug’s effects. UroA, a metabolite derived from berry and pomegranate components ellagic acid and ellagitannins, is recognized as a safe dietary supplement by the FDA.

Sweta Ghosh, a post-doctoral associate at UofL, was first author on the study and Rajbir Singh, former UofL post-doc, executed the experiments. This research was funded by the National Cancer Institute and a COBRE project grant.

More information about their research is available online here.

Read on UofLNews.com here.