A Study Reveals Oral Bacteria's Potential Role in Accelerating Colon Cancer Growth

A Study Reveals Oral Bacteria’s Potential Role in Accelerating Colon Cancer Growth


Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle have recently conducted a study that reveals a potential connection between oral bacteria and the acceleration of colon cancer growth. Published in Nature, the research underscores the existence of a specific oral bacterium, Fusobacterium nucleatum, in colon tumor tissues and its association with tumor growth.

After looking at samples from 200 people with colon cancer, the study found that a certain type of Fusobacterium nucleatum, called Fna C2, was strongly linked to tumor tissues. Researchers found this subtype to be more prevalent in colon cancer patients compared to healthy individuals, suggesting a potential role in disease progression.

Susan Bullman, co-corresponding study author and a cancer microbiome researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, emphasized the implications of these findings for colon cancer treatment and prognosis. “Patients with colorectal tumors containing Fusobacterium nucleatum have poor survival and a poorer prognosis compared with patients without the microbe,” she stated in a news release from the cancer center.

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The study also found that the Fna C2 subtype of Fusobacterium nucleatum can move from the mouth to the stomach and then colonize the lower GI tract, which includes the colon. This is different from other subtypes. Approximately 50% of the colon tumors tested in the study had this specific bacterial subtype.

Christopher Johnston, co-corresponding author and molecular microbiologist at Fred Hutch, highlighted the potential for microbe-based therapies in combating colon cancer. These therapies involve using modified forms of bacteria to deliver medications directly to the tumor site, offering a targeted approach to treatment.

The discovery of the specific bacterial lineage linked to colorectal cancer paves the way for the creation of preventive and therapeutic strategies that specifically target Fusobacterium nucleatum and its subtypes. As researchers continue to unravel the complex interplay between oral bacteria and colon cancer, these findings represent a significant step towards more effective treatments and improved outcomes for patients battling this deadly disease.

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