United States: The germs that are found in the human mouth are capable of traveling to colon tumors, which further appears to speed up the tumor’s growth.

According to the American Cancer Society, this latest finding will provide new insight into deciding various courses of action in fighting against colon cancer, which is responsible for killing around 52,000 Americans per year.

More about the study

The researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle examined various levels of a particular oral bacterium, called Fusobacterium nucleatum, situated in colon tumor tissues.

The examination was performed on tissue samples taken from 200 colon cancer patients, upi.com reported.

The mouth microbe and cancer link

Visual Representation of Mouth Bacteria. Credit | Shutterstock

The microorganism has a few subtypes, but one especially, known as Fna C2, proved to be related solely to the tumor and not the healthy tissue, as the researchers said in the Nature journal on Wednesday.

FNA C2 subtype identification was more common in stool samples of colon cancer patients than in healthy individuals.

Susan Bullman, the co-corresponding study author, stated in a cancer center news release, “We’ve consistently seen that patients with colorectal tumors containing Fusobacterium nucleatum have poor survival and poorer prognosis compared with patients without the microbe,” as upi.com reported.

Bullman, who is working as a cancer microbiome researcher at the center, said, “Now we’re finding that a specific subtype of this microbe is responsible for tumor growth,” and, “It suggests therapeutics and screening that target this subgroup within the microbiota would help people who are at a higher risk for more aggressive colorectal cancer.”

The researchers then discovered that this specific type of bacteria, F. nucleatum, that stays in the mouth, has different variants when they conducted their research.

The only one of the strains that can do this is the Fna C2 type, which can be released from mouth and travel to stomach and then propagate in the lower gastrointestinal tract, including the colon, as upi.com reported.

As per the team’s response, out of the total colon tumors tested, more than 50 percent displayed the presence of the Fna C2 subtype of F. nucleatum

Microbe-based “cellular therapies” for cancer treatment

Bullman’s group noted that Microbe-based “cellular therapies” will prove to be a novel frontier in attacking cancers of the colon. Such treatments are performed by using weakened forms of bacteria in order to propagate the medicines directly to the tumor.

Christopher Johnston, who is a co-corresponding author and working as a molecular microbiologist at Fred Hutch, said, “We have pinpointed the exact bacterial lineage that is associated with colorectal cancer, and that knowledge is critical for developing effective preventive and treatment methods.”


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