Early-stage diagnostics developer Prescient Metabiomics announced this week it has entered a research collaboration with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health dedicated to study microbial biomarkers to identify the presence of precancerous adenomas and carcinomas in the colon.
The initial collaboration will apply statistical and bioinformatic techniques for microbiome meta-analysis of prevalent gut microbial biomarkers for colorectal cancer (CRC) by analyzing known, recent CRC cases across populations from the Harvard Chan Microbiome in Public Health Center (HCMPH Center).
“The ongoing research collaboration will further enhance diagnostic screening for colon cancer,” said Keri Donaldson, M.D, chief executive officer at Prescient Medicine, the parent company of Prescient Metabiomics. “Offering a non-invasive alternative to colonoscopies that screen for colorectal adenomas and carcinomas could represent a paradigm shift in CRC screening driven by the microbiome. Therefore, research to better understand the microbiome’s role in CRC is needed at this time.”
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths results in healthcare expenditures of roughly $14 billion in U.S. each year for the diagnosis and treatment of CRC. A significant cost saving for detection and care of CRC could be addressed by earlier detection, but there is a lack of non-invasive screening tests that can accurately detect precancerous polyps as effectively as a colonoscopy, the current standard of care. Research also indicates that early detection of precancerous adenomas and carcinomas could lead to significantly better patient outcomes.
Curtis Huttenhower, Ph.D., professor of computational biology at Harvard Chan School and co-director of the HCMPH Center, said, “The mission of the HCMPH Center is to improve population health via microbiome science, and there are few chronic disease conditions as well-positioned to benefit from microbiome screening as colorectal cancer. It is one of the most common causes of cancer deaths, but also one of the most preventable cancers if detected early. It’s exciting to embark on this collaboration to advance the latest science and, I hope, eventually deploy our findings to the clinic.”