‘Huge breakthrough’ made in battle against Prostate Cancer

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have made a breakthrough that could slow down and prevent the development of aggressive forms of Cancer.

Funded by The Bob Champion Cancer Trust and Prostate Cancer UK, UEA’s Norwich Medical School worked with colleagues from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the Quadrum Institute and other collaborators, identifying five types of bacteria which were common in urine and tissue samples from men with aggressive prostate cancer. The types of bacteria found – thought to be anaerobic, which means they likely grow without the presence of oxygen – include Anaerococcus, Peptoniphilus, Porphyromonas, Fenollaria and Fusobacterium.

Dr Rachel Hurst, senior research associate and first author of the report, said: “to detect bacteria, we used many different approaches including whole genome sequencing of the tissue samples, a method which is being used increasingly as we transition into an era of genome medicine.”

“We also identified potential biological mechanisms of how these bacteria may be linked to cancer.” However, the team were also keen to stress the benefits of certain forms of bacteria, making it a difficult task to remove harmful bacteria without removing the protection provided by other forms of bacteria.  She continued: “Among other things we don’t yet know is how people pick up these bacteria, whether they are causing the cancer, or whether a poor immune response permits the growth of the bacteria.”

In June, Norwich Medical School announced the development of a non-invasive urine test for prostate cancer that can test the aggressiveness of the disease whilst reducing the number of unnecessary prostate cancer biopsies by 32%.

According to Dr Hayley Luxton, Research Impact Manager at Prostate Cancer UK, the link between bacteria living in the prostate and severe forms of prostate cancer is “an exciting discovery that has the potential to truly revolutionise treatment for men.”


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Sam Gordon Webb

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May 2022
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