The University of Minnesota has specified that gut bacteria are correlated with colorectal tumor cells. A new study presented at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) 2015 Annual Meeting in Baltimore has revealed that the types of gut bacteria predicts key mutations in colorectal tumors.
The study examined the genetic differences between colorectal tumor cells and healthy colon cells from 44 adults with colorectal cancer and looked for correlations between specific mutations in the tumor cells and the composition of the tumor microbiome.
“Ours was the first study to analyze both of these factors together,” said Michael B. Burns, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Blekhman’s laboratory. “Previous studies have found associations between certain mutations and colorectal cancer, and between certain microbiome characteristics and cancer, but had not integrated the two,” he said.
“We found that it could be possible to genetically classify the colorectal tumor a person has without having to do a biopsy and dissect it,” Dr. Blekhman said. “This could eventually provide a non-invasive and inexpensive approach to inform diagnosis and treatment.”
The study specified that an elevated level of cancer-associated mutations of a person’s tumor cells was associated with a diverse tumor microbiome. Specific mutations in tumor cells were associated with the presence of specific types of bacteria in the microbiome. A method was differentiated to predict the types of mutations present in a tumor based on its microbiome. On average, the method correctly predicted about half of the most common mutations found in the tumor.
“By studying interactions between tumors and the bacteria in their microbiomes, we would better understand the bacteria’s role in causing tumors to form and grow – if they even have such a role – and eventually, we may be able to treat cancer by changing aspects of its microbiome,” Dr. Blekhman said.
Reference: Blekhman R et al. (2015 Oct 9). Abstract: Genomic landscape of colorectal tumors shapes the microbiome of the tumor microenvironment. Presented at American Society of Human Genetics 2015 Annual Meeting. Baltimore, Md.