Variations in the gut microbiome could predict the risk of colorectal cancer

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New research has identified significant variations in the gut microbiome of individuals who developed precancerous colon lesions, suggesting a possible connection between gut bacteria and the development of colorectal lesions and cancers. These findings, presented at UEG Week 2023, organized by United European Gastroenterology (UEG), open promising new avenues for improve the detection and prevention of colorectal cancer.

The large-scale prospective study, in which 8,208 people participatedlinked data from the Dutch Microbiome Project with the national pathology database of the Netherlands to identify all recorded cases of colon biopsies from the last five decades.

The researchers analyzed the function and composition of gut microbiomes of individuals who developed precancerous colorectal lesions before fecal sampling between 2000 and 2015, as well as those who developed lesions after fecal sampling between 2015 and 2022.

These groups were then compared with individuals with normal colonoscopy results and with the general population. To delve deeper into the role of the gut microbiome, researchers are also examining specific bacterial strains and their functions in the gut using reconstruction of their genomes from metagenomic data.

The results revealed that individuals who developed colonic lesions after fecal sampling had greater diversity in their intestinal microbiome compared to those who did not develop lesions. Furthermore, the composition and function of the microbiome differed between individuals with pre-existing or future injuries and varied depending on the type of injury. In particular, bacterial species of the family ‘Lachnospiraceae’ and the genera ‘Roseburia’ and ‘Eubacterium’ were related to the future development of lesions.

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