Scientists have identified a molecular mechanism through which an oral bacterium accelerates colorectal cancer growth.
Tests have shown that around a third of people who develop colorectal cancer also have the bacterium, which has the name Fusobacterium nucleatum. Their cancer also tends to be more aggressive, but it was not clear why until the recent study.
A paper that now features in the journal EMBO Reports reveals how the microorganism promotes the growth of cancer cells but not that of noncancerous cells.
The findings should help to clarify why some colorectal cancers develop much faster than others, say the researchers who hail from Columbia University in the City of New York.
The team also identified a protein that could form the basis of a test for more aggressive cancers and could lead to new treatments for colorectal and other cancers.
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