Tweaking the composition of gut bacteria in mice stymies inflammation and the growth of tumors in their colons, researchers reported July 29 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
Inflammatory bowel disease, which affects more than 1.6 million Americans, is tied to an imbalance of certain bacterial populations in the gut and an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Scientists aimed to subdue these harmful microbes in mice, specifically modifying the function of a subset of E. coli that produce a DNA-damaging toxin and incite tumor growth in animal models. By administering water-soluble tungsten salt to model mice, the scientists suppressed the bacteria’s ability to generate energy.
“Restricting the growth of these bacteria decreased intestinal inflammation and reduced the incidence of tumors in two models of colorectal cancer,” coauthor Sebastian Winter, a microbiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, says in an announcement. The new study adds to a mounting pile of research focused on uncovering the link between the gut microbiome and immune responses in cancer cells.
W. Zhu et al., “Editing of the gut microbiota reduces carcinogenesis in mouse models of colitis-associated colorectal cancer,” doi:10.1084/jem.20181939, Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2019.
Nicoletta Lanese is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.