Bacteria in Human Tumours

Posted on: 12 Jun 2018

Bacteria in Human Tumours

 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Mark Tangney

Researcher: Vamsi Yallapragada

Project Summary:

It is becoming apparent that the relationship between humans and bacteria can influence various diseases. Deeper understanding of the bacteria that live in our body is enabling identification of i) potential causes of and ii) potential treatments for disease. The Tangney lab at the Cork Cancer Research Centre has recently discovered that bacteria exist in patient tumours, and are the first to describe a ‘Tumour Microbiome’. A wide range of bacteria was found in all patient breast tumours examined, which varied between patients. It remains unknown if any of these bacteria influence tumour growth, positively or negatively. A better understanding of this phenomenon may facilitate appropriate intervention, diagnosis or prevention strategies. Furthermore, certain bacteria found within tumours could be exploited as natural vehicles to deliver therapeutics to tumours.

This project aims to characterise the bacteria naturally present in patients. The project is in the early stages, and we have been focussing on developing an entirely new way of processing existing hospital tumour samples that will facilitate the study of samples from large numbers of cancer patients. We are also developing methods to turn bacteria we find, into drug delivery vehicles, by engineering these bacteria to become tumour killers and putting them back into cancer patients.

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