Scientists Have Created an Atlas Connecting Fungi to Thirty-Five Cancers


A team of researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Science Institute and California University in San Diego linked fungi to approximately 35 cancers. They created a pan-cancer mycobiome atlas exposing new information to be used in cancer therapeutics and diagnostics benefiting patients in all parts of the world.

According to the publication Inside Precision Medicine, patients experiencing a poor response to specific cancer medications may discover there are links to abnormalities in the gut microbiome. There has also been mounting evidence of bacteria being linked to cancer and possibly playing a role in its progression.

To build on this mystery, species of fungus have invaded tumor environments. However, their role in either fighting or promoting cancer has not yet been established.

The researchers reported in the journal Cell’s September 29th issue that their newly created ‘atlas of fungi’ will determine whether the fungi are responsible for better or worse outcomes for patients. They also hope it will lead to improved diagnostics and treatment.

In the study, Professor Rob Knight, Micronoma’s co-founder, analyzed cancer mycobiome in 17,401 blood, plasma, and patient tissue samples representing 35 cancer types. His San Diego company, Micronoma, develops microbial biomarkers in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Most cancers that were analyzed contained low levels of fungal cells and DNA. It has been known for some time that fungi and bacteria interact and have been found to co-exist.

Professor Knight commented that it is expected that fungi would exist in human cancers. Yet their mode of entry into tumors has so far escaped discovery.

In order to identify specific links involving fungi, the researchers experimented by separating patients into six cohorts. They found that the C3 mycotype showed significant immune activation as well as the most survival of all twenty cancer types.

The opposite is true for patients with intratumoral Malassezia globose, a fungus commonly found on human skin. These patients had a substantially shorter period of overall survival.

The researchers discovered that tumors in various cancer types were harboring different species of single-celled or microscopic fungi. There was an indication that investigating the species may be helpful in diagnosis or may even predict the course of a cancer.

One of the principal investigators of the Weizmann Institute, David Straussman, predicts that finding fungi present in human tumors gives researchers another tool to diagnose cancer.


Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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