Prof Hopes to Develop Diagnostic Test for Colon Cancer

Prof. Emma Allen-Vercoe aims to develop a new test for diagnosing colorectal cancer with $439,000 worth of funding from the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS).

Her team in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology will study the effects of Fusobacterium nucleatum, a microbe shown to be associated with colorectal cancer.

“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,” she says.

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

On average, 26 Canadians die from colorectal cancer each day, and 26,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with this cancer in 2017, according to the CCS.

Allen-Vercoe will use RNA sequencing to understand how cells communicate during infection.

“We hope that in addition to developing a diagnostic test, developing an understanding of host-pathogen interactions will lead to new therapies or even preventive measures.”