Microbial signature in colorectal cancer

A new article was published on Nature Medicine (Thomas A et al., PubMed) from the collaborative efforts of IIGM researchers, University of Trento - CIBIO, University of Turin - Department of Computer Science, and several national and international partners.
Dr. Nicola Segata from CIBIO coordinated the broad study, to which the IIGM's colorectal cancer research Unit led by Dr. Alessio G. Naccarati contributed.
The study analyzed metagenomics data from about one thousands of fecal samples from nine cohorts enrolled across the world, including the local cohort established by Naccarati and colleagues in the context of their research on colorectal cancer.
Authors found a specific pool of "marker" bacteria (among them, Fusobacterium nucleatum, already associated to colorectal cancer in previous studies) showing different profiles in cancer patients and healthy subjects, allowing their classification.
Results were corroborated by a back-to-back article on the same Nature Medicine issue (Wirbel J, et al., PubMed) that analyzed metagenomic data with a different approach.
The study reports a statistically higher copy number of the cutC enzyme coding gene in colorectal cancer patients. CutC enzyme has a role in choline metabolism and production of trimethylamine, that was previously associated to an high risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Results of these studies show that fecal microbiome is highly indicative of colorectal cancer. This "microbial signature" could be a potential tool to increase diagnostic accuracy in combination with other currently adopted tests, such as the fecal occult blood test.