Since the first “catalog” of the normal bacterial makeup of the human body was published in 2012, numerous connections between illness and disturbances in the human microbiota have been found.
By Diana Kenney
This week, scientists report yet another: Cancerous tumors in the ascending colon (the part nearest to the small intestine) are characterized by biofilms, which are dense clumps of bacterial cells encased in a self-produced matrix.
“This is the first time that biofilms have been shown to be associated with colon cancer, to our knowledge,” says co-author Jessica Mark Welch, a scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass.
The discovery, led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, draws on a novel way to “see” microbial community structure that was developed by Mark Welch and colleagues at the MBL. Called combinatorial imaging, it could potentially be used to clinically diagnose pre-cancerous and cancerous conditions in the ascending colon.”