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The Tumor Microbiome: A New Frontier in Cancer Research and Treatment

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Zara Nwosu
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The Tumor Microbiome: A New Frontier in Cancer Research and Treatment

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Our understanding of the complex interplay between the human body and its microbiome has made considerable strides in the past decade. An exciting area of research that has emerged from this understanding is the role of the microbiome in cancer. A 2022 study published in @SciSignal provides intriguing insights into this relationship, revealing that the commensal bacteria Fusobacterium can facilitate the migration of pancreatic cancer cells. This finding underscores the increasing significance of the tumor microbiome in the advancement of cancer and therapeutic research.

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The Role of Gut Microbiota in Cancer

Research has shown that the gut microbiota plays a significant role in various types of cancers, including melanoma, by impacting immunotherapy response and resistance. This influence is exerted through the mechanisms of action of the microbiota on innate and adaptive immunity. The presence of intratumoral microbes further complicates the relationship between the microbiota and cancer. This intricate connection suggests the potential of translating biomarker discoveries into clinical practice for improved cancer treatment strategies. Additionally, it opens up the possibility of using diet and medications as microbiota modulators to influence the course of cancer.

Oral Hygiene and Cancer Risk

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Interestingly, the microbiota's influence on cancer isn't restricted to the gut. Poor oral hygiene, which can lead to a dysregulated oral microbiota, has been linked to an increased risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). This link has been explored from a microbial perspective, providing intriguing insights into the tumor-promoting role of dysregulated microbiota. Understanding these mechanisms can pave the way for the development of therapeutic targeting strategies.

Influence of Microbiota on Cancer Progression

The relationship between the microbiota and cancer isn't merely a passive one. Certain components of the microbiota can actively promote cancer progression. For instance, the study found that CD95, a protein that promotes the stemness of colorectal cancer cells, was highly expressed in these cells. This protein upregulates the long non-coding RNA MALAT1, leading to tumorsphere formation and chemotherapy resistance. Targeting CD95 may, therefore, be a promising strategy to inhibit cancer stemness in colorectal cancer.

Conclusion

The study of the tumor microbiome is a rapidly evolving field, full of promise for the advancement of cancer research and treatment. As we deepen our understanding of the complex relationship between the microbiota and cancer, we can hope to develop more effective and targeted therapies for this deadly disease. The discovery that commensal bacteria like Fusobacterium can influence cancer progression is a significant step in this direction.

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