Published: 01-11-2022 16:20 | Updated: 08-11-2022 09:17

Swiss grant to research about colorectal cancer

Sylvain Peuget, assistant professor at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology at Karolinska Institutet and his team has received 250,000 USD from the Swiss Bridge Foundation. The grant is aimed for continued research to investigate what role that certain bacteria in our intestinal flora play in the development and progression of colorectal cancer.

Sylvain Peuget
Sylvain Peuget Photo: N/A

Congratulations Sylvain, tell us about the research grant you received!

The grant I received is the Swiss Bridge Award 2022 for research projects on infection-related cancers. The award consists of 250,000 USD to be invested in the implementation of the project. 

Can you tell us about your project?

My project, “Exploring the links between oncogenic bacteria and cancer for innovative therapies”, consists in investigating the role that certain bacteria in our intestinal flora play in the development and progression of colorectal cancer. Our work focus on the tumor suppressor gene p53, which normally prevents healthy cells from becoming cancer cells. We hypothesize that certain bacteria in the intestine can disrupt the function of p53 and thus promote the development of colorectal cancer. Our goal is to characterize these harmful bacteria in more detail and to determine the signaling pathways through which they regulate p53. A better understanding of these mechanisms may help to find new ways to treat colorectal cancer, either by targeting the cancer cells directly or by targeting the cancer-promoting bacteria. 

Who is taking part in the study? 

This project will be performed by my team, which specialize in p53 biology, in collaboration with microbiologist Dr Marie-Stéphanie Aschtgen (MTC, KI), and cancer biologist Prof Klas Wiman (OnkPat, KI), who are both experts in the pathways we are investigating. 

Which patient groups will benefit from the research and how? 

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the world, and there is an urgent need for better understanding of this multifactorial disease to successfully design more personalized therapies. The gut is the host for a large community of microbes, and while the impact of bacteria on cancer is well established, the underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. 

The factors we will identify through this project, both in the host and in cancer-associated bacteria, are potential therapeutic targets for inflammatory-associated cancer. Targeting oncogenic bacteria instead of cancer cells could open promising new therapeutic avenues to treat and/or to prevent colorectal cancer.