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Can microbes in the blood and tissues help to detect cancer?

Image credit: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321000

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J
J. Nov 28, 2020
Motivation I recently ran into a company called Micronoma that develops liquid biopsy technology to interrogate the microbial signal to possibly detect and/or predict cancer with clinical-grade accuracy.

Introduction
Liquid biopsies are non-invasive tests that use blood samples in which they try to detect and analyze the presence of certain biomarkers. Except for non-invasiveness, this approach allows the detection of cancers and diseases embedded deep inside the body, which are hard to reach by tissue biopsies. There are many, more or less specific, blood-based tests targeting various diseases. Although the efforts to develop a gene/mutation-based blood test (often empowered with amazing AI technology) to predict or diagnose the diseases in the early stages are enormous, new approaches are necessary concerning the integrative model of multidisciplinarity which describes how science works today . So what else can be done to make the liquid biopsies better?

The core
The founders of Micronoma proved that molecules derived from the microorganisms and found in blood or tissues are unique for different cancer types and have predictive value. By using the next-generation sequencing methods and patented algorithm computations, they were able to separate healthy patients from the ones who had multiple types of cancer solely using cell-free nucleic acids from plasma. The clinical sensitivity was 88% and specificity 93% .

Questions
  • If it is so revolutionary, how come there is only one paper and company working on it (no other literature proofs except the Micronoma team)?
  • Are the microbial components in blood a consequence or a cause of the disease?
  • Does finding specific microbial populations in the blood mean that these microbes live in the disease/cancer tissue?

[1]https://time.com/5889982/cancer-liquid-biopsies/

[2]https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2095-1

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Creative contributions

S. bovis/ gallolyticus is found in blood of colon cancer patients

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Dec 01, 2020
S. bovis/ gallolyticus is able to grow in bile. It can bypass the hepatic reticulo-endothelial system and enter circulation easily. Therefore, there was a higher prevalence of the chronic liver disease in patients with S. bovis/ gallolyticus infection. Also, the rate of simultaneous occurrence of liver disease and colon cancer was found to be 27%.

Therefore, a blood test for S. bovis/ gallolyticus upon identified liver disease may help diagnose colon cancer.

[1]Luk WK, Liu CL, Yuen KY, Wong SS, Woo PC, Fan ST. Biliary tract infection due to bile-soluble bacteria: an intriguing paradox. Clin Infect Dis. 1998 Apr;26(4):1010-2. doi: 10.1086/517638. PMID: 9564504.

[2]Vaska VL, Faoagali JL. Streptococcus bovis bacteraemia: identification within organism complex and association with endocarditis and colonic malignancy. Pathology. 2009 Feb;41(2):183-6. doi: 10.1080/00313020802436816. PMID: 18972318.

[3]Tripodi MF, Adinolfi LE, Ragone E, Durante Mangoni E, Fortunato R, Iarussi D, Ruggiero G, Utili R. Streptococcus bovis endocarditis and its association with chronic liver disease: an underestimated risk factor. Clin Infect Dis. 2004 May 15;38(10):1394-400. doi: 10.1086/392503. Epub 2004 Apr 28. PMID: 15156477.

[4]Zarkin BA, Lillemoe KD, Cameron JL, Effron PN, Magnuson TH, Pitt HA. The triad of Streptococcus bovis bacteremia, colonic pathology, and liver disease. Ann Surg. 1990 Jun;211(6):786-91; discussion 791-2. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199006000-00019. PMID: 2357141; PMCID: PMC1358139.

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