Sergio A. Lira, MD, PhD, Director of the Immunology Institute, and Professor of Immunology and Medicine, and his laboratory at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, used a transgenic mouse model to test the hypothesis that distribution of intestinal polyps (precancerous lesions) was dependent on the bacteria (or microbiota) in the gut. They treated the mice with antibiotics to eradicate the populations of bacteria living in the gut. The treatment proved effective in preventing polyp formation. The authors propose that bacteria cross from the gut into the tissue of the intestinal wall, promoting inflammation and tumor growth.
"This begins to get at some of the nongenetic factors that spur the development of colorectal cancer," said Dr. Lira. "Understanding the interplay between genetic mutations, gut bacteria, and inflammation may lead to new diagnostics and treatments for intestinal cancer."
National Institutes of Health grants 1R01CA161373-01 and P01 DK072201 provided funding to Dr. Lira for this research.