University of Guelph to develop new diagnostic test for colorectal cancer


Canada’s University of Guelph researcher Emma Allen-Vercoe is set to receive a new grant from the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) for the development of a new test to diagnose colorectal cancer.

Allen-Vercoe is a molecular and cellular biology professor and will be provided with a CCS funding of $439,750 over the coming three years.

CCS reported that on average 26 Canadians will die from this cancer each day and in this year more than 26,000 will be diagnosed with the same.

As part of the test’s development process, the University’s researchers will study the effects of a microbe called Fusobacterium nucleatum (F nucleatum), which is reported to be associated with the disease.

Allen-Vercoe said: “By focusing on aspects of the bacterium that may be directly involved with causing colorectal cancer, we can develop tests that look for these aspects rather than just for the microbe itself.

"By focusing on aspects of the bacterium that may be directly involved with causing colorectal cancer, we can develop tests that look for these aspects rather than just for the microbe itself."

“This is important because not all strains of F nucleatum appear to be associated with colorectal cancer, and some strains may be benign.”

According to findings from a prior CCS-funded study by Allen-Vercoe, the microbe is commonly found in the mouth and spreads to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.

The researchers intend to study and compare the interaction of the microbe with host cells in different parts of the body to minimise or prevent harmful effects.

Allen-Vercoe also plans to use RNA sequencing for gaining insights into these host-pathogen interactions at the time of infection, allowing potential development of new therapies or preventive measures.