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Sunday 20th May 2018

E coli linked to cancer killer

14th May 2009

A new study has revealed that a virulent strain of E coli could be linked to bowel cancer.


Scientists at Edinburgh University have found a strong suggestion the bacteria is able to hamper the body's fight against what is the second-biggest cancer killer in the UK.

From their study of colon cells infected with the enteropathogenic E coli (EPEC) strain, the team found that the bacteria significantly reduced the levels of two key proteins needed to repair damage to DNA.

Researchers, publishing their findings in the Public Library of Science One journal, feel they may have found a new lead in the search for possible causes of bowel cancer.

Lead author of the study, Dr Oliver Maddocks of the university's school of molecular and clinical medicine, said: "We can't say for certain that this type of E coli bacteria definitely causes colon cancer, as it is possible these patients acquired the bug after their tumours developed.

"But our laboratory work does strongly suggest that the bacteria are able to influence colon cells in a way that might predispose them to cancer, and so there is a real chance that infection could aid the development of colon tumours.

"We hope our findings stimulate further research to clarify the causes of this common cancer."

There are 35,000 new cases of bowel cancer every year in the UK, with 10,000 people dying from the condition.

The Edinburgh team now hope the findings from their pilot study will lead to more research into the causes of bowel cancer.


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