Nav: Home

Study shines light on gut microbiome in colon cancer

May 15, 2018

Washington, DC - May 15, 2018 - Researchers have identified a correlation between gut microbial composition and microRNA expression in human colorectal cancer, according to a recent study published in the journal mSystems. The study is the first to demonstrate that the interaction between microRNA and the gut microbiome may play a role in colorectal cancer.

"This is a correlation, but it is still very exciting, because if we see a causal effect, you can think of ways to manipulate the microRNA in the tumors by changing the microbiome, and that could potentially be used as a cancer therapy," said principal study investigator Ran Blekhman, PhD, assistant professor in the Departments of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, and Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The study was performed by Angelo Yuan, a Ph.D. student in the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology graduate program at the University of Minnesota.

The researchers launched their new study for three reasons. First, recent studies have shown that the microbiome has a role in colon cancer. Second, many studies have shown that host microRNAs are very important in cancer. Third, recent research has shown that there are interactions between the microbiome and host microRNAs. "We wanted to look at all of these things together, to see if there is any interaction between the host microRNA and the microbiome in the context of colon cancer," said Dr. Blekhman.

The researchers analyzed colon cancer patient samples collected as part of a previous study at the University of Minnesota. A total of 88 matched tumor and adjacent normal tissues were collected from 44 patients. The researchers sequenced the microRNA of these samples and correlated microRNA expression levels in colon cancer tissue with the microbiome composition.

The researchers found that dozens of microRNA are differentially regulated in colorectal cancer tumors, compared to adjacent normal colon, and that these microRNAs are correlated with the abundance of microbes in the tumor microenvironment. They also found that microbes that have been previously associated with colorectal cancer are correlated with microRNAs (microRNA-182, microRNA-503, microRNA17-92) that regulate genes related to interaction with microbes that likely regulate glycan production, which is important for the recruitment of pathogenic microbial taxa to the tumor.

"We found networks of microbes that are dependent on the microRNA. Then, we specifically investigated the microbes that have been previously linked to cancer, and we identified all of the microRNAs that are correlated with the abundance of these microbes," said Dr. Blekhman. "This is an exciting result, but for now, we have shown correlation. We are currently working to show a direct effect of the microbiome on the microRNA using animal models."

The research provides a first systems-level map of the association between microbes and host microRNAs in the context of colorectal cancer. Future efforts will aim to detect whether the correlations are causal and if they are, whether there are possibilities to manipulate the microbiome to regulate the expression of microRNAs in the tumor, potentially impacting tumor progression.
-end-
The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of more than 30,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.

ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications and educational opportunities. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.

American Society for Microbiology

Related Cancer Articles:

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...