U research furthers options for colorectal treatment and prevention

by Ellen Schmidt

A University of Minnesota study published Wednesday in Genome Medicine identified how gut bacteria lends to tumor growth and formation in colorectal cancer patients.

The study analyzed bacteria near tumors in the guts of 44 colorectal cancer patients and compared it to bacteria found elsewhere in the patient's intestines.

Researchers found diversity of bacteria near the tumors was greater than in other parts of the intestine and that some bacterial genes contributing to tumor formation were also greater –– indicating that gut bacteria have an effect on cancer.


“This has obvious implications for colon cancer patients, and by analyzing the similarities among these pathogens, we have uncovered a single signature of colon cancer when analyzing the gut microbiome that might help researchers identify these cancers in the future,” co-lead author Michael Burns, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute post-doctoral associate in the Blekhman Lab at the University of Minnesota, said to Science Daily.


Other authors that contributed to the study include Ran Blekhman, a population geneticist in the College of Biological Sciences and Masonic Cancer Center, and the University’s Dan Knights and Timothy Starr.


The study identified two bacterias, Fusobacterium and Providencia. Fusobacterium has been associated with cancer in the past, but this is the first time Providencia has been linked to cancer. According to Science Daily, doctors could use those bacterias’ signatures to follow bacterial changes in patients  and care for them accordingly.