Colorectal cancer treatment options questioned

Scientists from the University of Montreal have questioned previously proposed treatments for colorectal cancer. Inulin has been shown to increase the growth of bacteria associated with this type of cancer. Work results published in Frontiers in Microbiology.

A group of strains of E. coli and polyketide synthase (pks and E. coli) is known to produce colibactin, a toxin that causes double-strand breaks in host cell DNA. This results in a higher mutation rate, increasing the risk of intestinal tumors. Previous search revealedthat 42% of healthy people had pks and E. coli in their gut, compared to 46% of colorectal cancer patients.

Now, experts have focused their attention on finding bacterial compounds that might inhibit the growth of E. coli and reduce the production of colibactin. During the process, various nutritional supplements have been tested that have a positive effect on the health of the digestive system. Among these was inulin, a dietary fiber found in many plant foods and sold in many pharmacies under the guise of a prebiotic.

At the same time, analysis showed that inulin actually increases the growth of pks and E. coli and colibactin secretion, which affects the genetic structure of intestinal cells. Experiments in an animal model of mice with colorectal cancer showed increased growth of pks and E. coli, as well as accelerated tumor development in mice treated with inulin.

Preliminary tests carried out on samples of human intestinal bacteria confirm this effect: most strains are able to use inulin to increase their own growth. This suggests that the option of treating colorectal cancer with inulin should be postponed.

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