Special Issue

The implementation of omics technologies in cancer microbiome research

5 Sep 2018
Benjamin H Mullish, Laura S Osborne, Julian R Marchesi, Julie AK McDonald

Whilst the interplay between host genetics and the environment plays a pivotal role in the aetiopathogenesis of cancer, there are other key contributors of importance as well. One such factor of central and growing interest is the contribution of the microbiota to cancer. Even though the field is only a few years old, investigation of the ‘cancer microbiome’ has already led to major advances in knowledge of the basic biology of cancer risk and progression, opened novel avenues for biomarkers and diagnostics, and given a better understanding of mechanisms underlying response to therapy. Recent developments in microbial DNA sequencing techniques (and the bioinformatics required for analysis of these datasets) have allowed much more in-depth profiling of the structure of microbial communities than was previously possible. However, for more complete assessment of the functional implications of microbial changes, there is a growing recognition of the importance of the integration of microbial profiling with other omics modalities, with metabonomics (metabolite profiling) and proteomics (protein profiling) both gaining particular recent attention. In this review, we give an overview of some of the key scientific techniques being used to unravel the role of the cancer microbiome. We have aimed to highlight practical aspects related to sample collection and preparation, choice of the modality of analysis, and examples of where different omics technologies have been complementary to each other to highlight the significance of the cancer microbiome.

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