Scientists have discovered bacteria linked to aggressive prostate cancer in work hailed as a potential revolution for the prevention and treatment of the disease, reported The Guardian.
Researchers led by the University of East Anglia performed sophisticated genetic analyses on the urine and prostate tissue of more than 600 men with and without prostate cancer and found five species of bacteria linked to rapid progression of the disease.
The study does not prove that the bacteria drive or exacerbate prostate cancer, but if work now under way confirms their role, researchers can develop tests to identify men most at risk and potentially find antibiotics to prevent the cancer from claiming thousands of lives each year.
“This is an exciting discovery that has the potential to truly revolutionize treatment for men,” said Dr. Hayley Luxton of Prostate Cancer UK, which co-funded the research.
Writing in the journal European Urology Oncology, the scientists describe how their genetic investigations found five species of bacteria – three new to science – that were associated with advanced prostate cancer. Men who had one or more of the species in their urine, prostate or tumor tissue were 2.6 times more likely to see their early-stage cancer progress to advanced disease than men who did not.
Lead scientist Colin Cooper, a professor of cancer genetics at the University of East Anglia, said it was possible the bacteria are not involved in the disease. For example, men with more aggressive prostate cancer may have immune system deficiencies that allow certain bacteria to thrive.