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Research links bacteria in mouth to colorectal cancer

A gut microbe that also appears in the mouth and is associated with various forms of gum disease has been linked to colorectal cancer, as reported in research published Aug. 14.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and second most occurring cancer worldwide.

Whether this is an indirect link or whether it is a causal link remains unclear.

Reported in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, the research shows how these human intestinal microbes, known as fusobacteria, stimulate bad immune responses and turn on cancer growth genes to generate colorectal tumors.

Yiping Han, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and collaborators discovered that fusobacteria rely on a Fusobacterium adhesin A (FadA) molecule, which is found on the surface of these bacterial cells, to attach to and invade human colorectal cancer cells, Cell Press said in announcing the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research supported study. The molecule then turns on cancer growth genes and stimulates inflammatory responses in these cells and promotes tumor formation.

Another study published Aug. 14 found that fusobacteria are prevalent in human adenomas, which are benign tumors that can become malignant over time. This suggests that these microbes contribute to early stages of tumor formation. “Fusobacteria may provide not only a new way to group or describe colon cancers but also, more importantly, a new perspective on how to target pathways to halt tumor grown and spread,” said senior study author Wendy Garrett, M.D., Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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