How are Gut Bacteria involved in causing Bowel Cancer?

Bowel Cancer arises from different types of precancerous polyps in the gut. The aim of this project is to try and identify bacterial communities that are involved in the development of Bowel Cancer. This could allow us to develop better early-stage markers of disease and, more importantly, it will help us understand how bacteria in our gut are involved in initiating Bowel Cancer, so that we can design preventative therapies that will lead to lower rates of this common and deadly cancer.

Researchers at the University of Otago have planned a study to identify bacterial communities in the gut microbiome involved in the development of Bowel Cancer.

What we aim to do

  • We plan to identify bacterial communities that are specific to certain types of polyps and, importantly, identify the functions of these bacteria that may play a role in initiating Bowel Cancer.
  • Then, we will test the mechanisms by which these bacteria interact with cells in the colon to cause cancerous changes

How we plan to do it

  • We will use polyps that have been collected by the Cancer Society Tissue Bank and extract DNA and RNA from them. Using cutting-edge DNA and RNA sequencing technology, we will identify differences in bacterial communities and functions between different types of polyps, and compare them to colon tumour tissue and healthy bowel tissue. This will allow us to identify bacterial functions and components that are only present in pre-cancerous lesions.
  • We will then test how these bacterial components may initiate cancer in colon cells in the laboratory and investigating changes at the molecular levels in the cells.

How your donation will help

  • Dr Purcell is looking for funds to pay for a Research Assistant’s salary to complete this research. Over a one-year period this will cost $56,296
  • From our Golf tournament last year, we have already raised $20,000 towards this project and your donation would give the project the boost it needs.
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