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Two female scientist conducting research in a lab

Targeting microbes that might cause bowel cancer

Nearly 6 in 10 of the cells in your body are microbes like bacteria and fungi. Together, these trillions of different microbes that live in your body are called your microbiome.

The microbiome has key roles in keeping us healthy, and nowhere in the body has more microbes than our bowel. But the microbiome is delicately balanced – the presence of some types of bacteria is linked to several diseases.

Understanding the relationship between the microbiome and bowel cancer – and how the microbiome changes how a person with bowel cancer responds to treatment – could lead to new ways to prevent and treat bowel cancer.

There is an unexplained trend that is seeing bowel cancer rates in people aged under 50 increase – could a change in gut bacteria be the cause?

We’re helping fund a team of internationally leading scientists to bring their diverse skills to bear on this challenge. By analysing the microbiome of thousands of people from across the world, they’re transforming our understanding of how the microbiome influences bowel cancer.

They’ve already discovered a type of bacteria that increases the risk of bowel cancer in some people under 50, and they are exploring whether it might be possible to target this bacteria to reduce bowel cancer risk.

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