County Pathology Blog

A complete diagnostic service

Gut Microbiome predicts Colon Cancer | Blog | County Pathology Ltd

Gut Microbiome predicts Colon Cancer


Analysis of the microbiome surrounding colon cancer tumours could be used as a noninvasive screening test that is more sensitive and specific than faecal occult blood testing, according to the results of a new study.
Analysis of the bacterial flora in the gut varies with each tumour " said Ran Blekhman, PhD, from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
The results of the study were presented here at the American Society of Human Genetics 2015.
Dr Blekhman and his colleagues looked at the genetic differences between healthy colon cells and tumour cells from adults with colorectal cancer, and found that specific tumour mutations are associated with the presence of specific bacteria in the gut.
For example, in people with an
APC gene mutation, there is a strong association between familial adenomatous polyposis, a hereditary cancer syndrome, and an abundance of Fusobacterium, said Dr Blekhman.
The investigators used whole-exome sequencing to assess the protein-coding regions of tumours and microbiome profiling to characterise the microbiota in tumour biopsy specimens and normal colon tissue samples from 44 adults with colon cancer.
They found that the more mutations, the more varied the bacterial species in the tumour microbiome.
Theoretically, this means that manipulation of the tumour microenvironment could be used to prevent or treat colon cancer, Dr Blekhman explained.
This study addresses, in part, the problem of "hidden heritability," said Chris Gunter, PhD, from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.