New Research Reveals Oral Bacteria's Role in Accelerating Colon Cancer Growth


Oral Bacteria Linked to Aggressive Colon Cancer Growth, Study Finds

A recent study conducted by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle has shed light on the link between a specific subtype of oral bacteria and the progression of colon cancer. The findings, published in the journal Nature on March 20, suggest that a particular strain of Fusobacterium nucleatum, known as Fna C2, can travel from the mouth to the colon and contribute to the growth of cancerous tumors.

Colon cancer is a devastating disease that claims the lives of more than 52,000 Americans annually, according to the American Cancer Society. The discovery of this connection between oral bacteria and colon cancer progression could lead to new strategies for fighting the disease.

The research team, led by cancer microbiome researcher Susan Bullman and molecular microbiologist Christopher Johnston, analyzed colon tumor tissues from 200 patients diagnosed with colon cancer. They found that the Fna C2 subtype of F. nucleatum was present in 50% of the tumors tested, and was more commonly found in stool samples of colon cancer patients compared to healthy individuals.

"We've consistently seen that patients with colorectal tumors containing Fusobacterium nucleatum have poor survival and poorer prognosis compared with patients without the microbe," Bullman explained. "Now we're finding that a specific subtype of this microbe is responsible for tumor growth."

The researchers discovered that F. nucleatum bacteria found in the mouth have distinct subtypes, but only the Fna C2 subtype possesses the ability to travel from the mouth to the stomach and thrive in the lower gastrointestinal tract, including the colon.

These findings suggest that targeted therapies and screening methods focusing on this specific bacterial subtype could benefit patients at higher risk for more aggressive forms of colorectal cancer. The research team believes that microbe-based "cellular therapies" could represent a new frontier in the fight against colon cancer. These innovative treatments would involve using modified bacteria to deliver medications directly to the tumor site.

"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," Johnston emphasized.

As research continues to unravel the complex relationship between the human microbiome and various diseases, studies like this one provide valuable insights that could lead to groundbreaking advancements in cancer prevention and treatment. With a better understanding of the role specific bacteria play in the progression of colon cancer, healthcare professionals may be able to develop more targeted and effective strategies to combat this deadly disease.