Severe gastric adverse effects caused by the colon cancer drug irinotecan can be alleviated by inhibiting an enzyme produced by symbiotic intestinal bacteria, according to a study by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Wallace BD et al. Science. 2010;30:831-835).
Although irinotecan is rendered nontoxic to the intestinal mucosa before it reaches the intestines, bacteria in the gut produce enzymes called β-glucuronidases that convert it back to a toxic form that can then cause tissue damage that triggers severe diarrhea.
Friedrich MJ. Easing Chemo Adverse Effects. JAMA. 2011;305(1):28. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1902