Microbiome Research Update: New Study Uncovers Role of Bacteria in Bowel Cancer

Dr. Kaitlin, from the University of Bristol, speaking at the 2019 NCRI Cancer Conference, confirmed that they have discovered evidence of the presence of an unclassified type of bacteria from the bacterial group named ‘Bacteroidales’ increased the chances of bowel cancer by 2 to 15 percent.  The researchers employed the technique known as Mendelian randomization to examine the causative effect of bacteria in the development of bowel cancer.

What is Mendelian randomization: Mendelian randomization represents a novel epidemiologic study design that incorporates genetic information into traditional epidemiologic methods. It provides an approach to addressing questions of causality without many of the typical biases that impact the validity of traditional epidemiologic approaches. First proposed in 1986, it is a method of using measured variation in genes of known function to examine the causal effect of a modifiable exposure on the disease in observational studies.

How was the research conducted:

The researchers used people’s natural, randomly inherited genetic variations that affect the levels of bacteria within the gut microbiome in a similar manner as a randomized trial, or observe whether people with a different genetic makeup, and consequently, different gut microbiome profiles, have a different risk of colorectal cancer. The team extracted data from 3,890 people who participated in the Flemish Gut Flora Project, the PopGen study, and the German Food Chain Plus study, along with 120,328 people from the international Genetics and Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer Consortium in a genome-wide association study (GWAS). They found a link between genetic variation in particular parts of the genome and the concentration of 13 types of gut bacteria, and that people with an unclassified type of bacteria belonging to the Bacteroidales group were more prone to develop bowel cancer than others who did not have the bacteria.

How common are gut microbe related disorders:

 There are a number of diseases wherein researchers have uncovered relationship between cause of the disease and the gut microbiome.

Infographic: Growing burden of micorbiome diseases

Microbiomes, as drugs is an active area of research, how many drugs are being developed in this segment:

Presently, 260 drug candidates are being evaluated in clinical/preclinical stages for the treatment of a wide variety of disease indications; the US has emerged as the major hub for microbiome-based research

Microbiome Therapies Pipeline

The pipeline features both prebiotic and probiotic drugs, being evaluated across different stages of development; the majority of these products are designed for administration via non-invasive routes, such as oral and topical.

To get more insights about the microbiome therapeutics market, check out the report here.