Unique Pathogenic Bacteria Identified as Driver of Colon Cancer: Raises Possibility of Novel Diagnostic and Therapeutic Targets

Recent study highlights the relationship between colorectal cancer and unique strain of bacteria.

Scientists find specific Fusobacterium sub-species to be highly virulent and key contributor to aggressive colon cancer, leading to worse outcomes.

Increases in reported colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and death over the past decade have pushed scientists to search for novel diagnostics and treatment options to help combat rising prevalence of the disease. One promising area of research identified the microbiome, or the collection of microbes that naturally live throughout our body, as playing a key role in CRC etiology. Specifically, the oral bacterium Fusobacterium nucleatum (Fn), had been implicated in aggressiveness and overall worse CRC patient outcomes. However, inability to reproduce certain bacterial-associated cancer phenotypes led to speculation that only certain Fn strains could contribute to disease.

In a groundbreaking new study published last week in the journal Nature, scientists demonstrated that a specific subspecies of Fn, named Fna C2, frequently co-occurred with colon cancer and contributed to both increased carcinogenesis and metastatic potential. By contrast no other Fn subtypes, including the highly related Fn CA1 clade, showed strong association with disease.

Closer investigation revealed that subtle yet important genomic and epigenomic changes in the Fna C2 clade gave it the potential to travel from the oral microbiome, through the digestive tract, and ultimately seed within CRC tumors. The study authors also found that only Fna C2 was enriched in colorectal tumor tissue and was significantly higher in stool samples taken from CRC versus healthy donors. Importantly, when challenged with Fna C2 in a model of colorectal cancer, mice went on to develop an altered metabolite profile and an increased number of intestinal adenomas. The investigators emphasized that recognition of the important role that Fna C2 plays in CRC progression makes it a prime target to exploit for novel therapeutic or diagnostic development.

As part of their research, the investigators used the Zymo Research reagents and 16S microbiome analysis services to investigate the composition and relative abundance of different microbes in patient oral, stool, and cancer tissue samples. Zymo Research is proud to offer a complete microbial composition analysis service utilizing custom 16S, ITS, or metagenomics approaches from a multitude of different sample types. Key highlights include:

  • Optimized sample preparation protocol to ensure complete and unbiased microbial sample processing, even for tough to lyse microorganisms
  • A mock microbial community standard to ensure no biases are introduced in the experiment and ensure reliability of the data
  • Improved NGS library preparation with newly designed 16S primers for better bacterial and archaeal coverage and optimization to limit PCR chimera formation.

    These factors combine to demonstrate our commitment to providing high-quality, reliable data to all of our customers. Contact us now to see how Zymo can help with your next research study.

    Discover additional details about Zymo Research's Microbiome Analysis Services and Microbiome Research Tools.