Prostate cancer: Important discovery in urine

In Europe more than die every year 70,000 men from prostate cancer, many times more suffer from it. How exactly prostate cancer develops is still largely unknown. At least so far. A research team from the University of East Anglia (UEA) has succeeded in Study found a connection between aggressive forms of prostate cancer and specific bacteria. The researchers hope that the newly gained knowledge could pave the way for treatments by treating the special bacteria and thereby slowing down or preventing the development of aggressive prostate cancer.

The leader of the research, Colin Cooper of the UEA School of Medicine in Norwich, said: ‘We already know of some strong links between infection and cancer.’ It is known that Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the digestive tract can lead to gastric ulcers, which are associated with gastric cancer. Some types of the HPV virus are also suspected of causing cervical cancer.

Bacteria are closely associated with aggressive prostate cancer

‘We wanted to see if bacteria could be linked to the way prostate cancer grows and spreads,’ the scientist said. According to the scientists responsible for the study, little is known about what causes some prostate cancers to become more aggressive than others. With the connection of the bacteria to prostate cancer, however, “a small part of the puzzle” has now been discovered.

For the research, the researchers worked together with scientists from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, the Quadram Institute and other cooperation partners. They analyzed urine or tissue samples from more than 600 patients with or without prostate cancer. The researchers succeeded in developing methods that could be used to identify the bacteria associated with aggressive prostate cancer. The first author of the research, Rachel Hurst, also a researcher at the UEA faculty in Norwich, said: “In order to detect the bacteria, we examined approximately the entire genetic make-up of the tissue samples taken examined. We were also able to detect bacteria.”

During the investigation, the researchers found several types of bacteria that are associated with aggressive prostate cancer. Some of these are new types of bacteria that have never been found before. Two of these newly discovered bacterial species were named after supporters of the study. “Porphyromonas bobii” and “Varibaculum prostatecancerukia”. The discovered bacteria are “anaerobic”, meaning they can grow without oxygen. Rachel Hurst said: “When any of these specific anaerobic bacteria were detected in patient samples, it was associated with the presence of a higher grade of prostate cancer and more rapid progression of the disease. However, we don’t yet know how humans transmit these bacteria record whether they are causing the cancer or whether a poor immune response is allowing the bacteria to grow.”

Research could lead to completely new therapeutic approaches

However, the research team hopes that the results obtained will lead to new treatment options that can slow or prevent the development of aggressive prostate cancer. “Our work could also lay the foundation for new tests that use bacteria to predict the most effective treatment for each man’s cancer,” says Hurst. It is important for the future not to attack the beneficial bacteria that support the human organism. According to Daniel Brewer of the UEA School of Medicine in Norwich, one of the biggest challenges is figuring out when to wait and when to start treatment for the cancer. Being able to target aggressive types of cancer while sparing others unnecessary treatment could drastically change the way prostate cancer is managed.

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Robert Mills, Specialist in Urology at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “This research has shown a possible link between more aggressive prostate cancer and the presence of certain bacteria in the prostate and in the urine. Whether this is a cause or effect is not clear and will be the subject of further investigation.” Hayley Luxton, researcher at the Prostate Cancer UK charity, said: “The discovery is really exciting and has the potential to really revolutionize the way men are treated.” She further explained: “We currently have no way to reliably identify aggressive prostate cancer. This research could help ensure that men receive the right treatment. If the team can demonstrate that these identified bacteria can not only predict aggressive prostate cancer, but can even cause it , we might be able to prevent prostate cancer from occurring for the first time. That would be a major breakthrough that could save thousands of lives every year.”

The study “Microbiomes of Urine and the Prostate are Linked to Human Prostate Cancer Risk Groups” was published in the journal “European Urology Oncology” and funded by the Bob Champion Cancer Trust and Prostate Cancer UK.

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