Scientists have discovered an association between tumors and fungi, which may lead to a better understanding of the biology of certain cancers.
An international research initiative has identified 35 types of cancer that carry traces of fungi hidden in various tumor mutations, namely those originating from the breasts, colon, pancreas and lungs.
The findings of scientists at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine come from more than 17,000 tissue, blood and plasma samples taken by researchers from cancer patients.
Although no firm conclusions can be drawn about the role fungi play in the development and spread of these cancers, peer-reviewed research indicates that there are significant correlations between specific fungi and age, tumor subtypes and survival measures.
“The existence of fungi in most human cancers is both surprising and predictable,” said Dr. Rob Knight, a professor in the School of Medicine, Bioengineering and Computer Science at UC San Diego, in a press release.
“It’s surprising because we don’t know how fungi can get into tumors all over the body. But it’s also expected because it fits the pattern of healthy microbiomes throughout the body, including the gut, mouth, and skin, where bacteria and fungi interact as part of a complex community.
One of the study’s authors, Dr. Ravid Straussman, says these recent findings should “prompt us to better explore their potential effects and re-examine almost everything we know about cancer through a ‘microbiome lens’. “.
Dr. Gregory Sepich-Poore, another study author, said in the press release that looking through this “microbiome lens” could be key to understanding cancer biology.
“This can present significant translation opportunities,” he said. “Not only in cancer detection, but also in other biotechnology applications related to [treatments and diagnostics.]”