Gut bacteria and colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer is a common type of cancer, and while recent evidence suggests that gut bacteria may increase risk, the exact mechanisms remain elusive. Bacterial infections can cause chronic inflammation, which has been linked to cancer development. The Bacteroides fragilis toxin potentially alters intracellular signalling pathways that are also linked to cancer development. We will explore how chronic inflammation as a result of enterotoxigenic B. fragilis (ETBF) infection is associated with development of colorectal cancers, including whether genetic mutations arise as a result of this chronic inflammation. We will also investigate the role of microRNAs as a potential mechanism that regulates this process. MicroRNAs are small RNA molecules that do not code for proteins, but have recently been shown to play important roles in many cellular processes, including the development of cancer. We hope that this project will identify novel markers for the early detection of colorectal cancer.
Dr Purcell is a Research Fellow with the Department of Surgery. She has a background in molecular biology and cancer genetics. Her research is centred on the molecular mechanisms of pathogenic bacteria in colorectal carcinogenesis.More About Dr Rachel Purcell