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Gastroenterologists explore relationship between bacteria in the gut and breast cancer

The human body contains billions of microorganisms, and microbial cells found in the human gut are estimated to outnumber human cells by ten-to-one in healthy adults. However, little is known about the ways in which these minute life forms influence health and disease.

That is why gastroenterologists at Rush University Medical Center are working on a new research study funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to chart the presence of microorganisms found within the gut and to explore how microbial imbalances may impact diseases like breast cancer.

"Similar to what has been done with human DNA, we want to map out the composition of these microorganisms from their DNA and analyze how they correlate to diseases and changes within the immune system," said Dr. Ece Mutlu, gastroenterologist at Rush and principal investigator of the study. "If we are able to find the microbes responsible for particular diseases, it may increase the likelihood of developing new diagnostic tests and treatments for diseases like breast cancer."

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