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Bacterial Gut Biome May Guide Colon Cancer Progression

Colorectal cancer develops in what is probably the most complex environment in the human body, a place where human cells cohabitate with a colony of approximately 10 trillion bacteria, most of which are unknown. At the 2014 American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in San Diego, researchers from The Wistar Institute will present findings that suggest the colon “microbiome” of gut bacteria can change the tumor microenvironment in a way that promotes the growth and spread of tumors.

Their results suggest that bacterial virulence proteins may suppress DNA repair proteins within the epithelial cells that line the colon. The research opens the possibility of modifying colon cancer risk by altering the population makeup of bacteria in the intestines of people at risk due to genetics or environmental exposure.

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