Pilot study identifies strain of bacteria as chief risk factor for stomach cancer
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SEATTLE — September 12, 2018 — Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found a specific strain of Helicobacter pylori strongly correlated with stomach cancer. The research, published in the journal PLOS ONE, could eventually be used to shape treatment and screening strategies for patients.

Collaborating with researchers at Zhengzhou University, the Fred Hutch team ran tests on 49 patients’ stomach endoscopy and stool samples, looking for H. pylori with a variant of the cagA gene, known as EPIYA D. They found 91 percent of the patients with the EPIYA D strain also had cancer.

“We’ve known the H. pylori bacterium has a strong correlation to stomach cancer, but it’s been difficult to pinpoint why certain patients, especially in areas like Northeast Asia, are more susceptible to stomach cancer,” said Dr. Nina Salama, senior author of the study and a member of Fred Hutch’s Human Biology and Public Health Sciences divisions. “While it’s preliminary in nature, these results could be the first step towards identifying the highest risk groups and improving screening and treatment plans.”

H. pylori is a spiral-shaped bacterium that grows in the mucus layer that coats the inside of the human stomach and causes ulcers.

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