Bacteria in human tumours

It is becoming apparent that the relationship between humans and bacteria can influence various diseases. Deeper understanding of the bacteria that live in our body is enabling identification of i) potential causes of and ii) potential treatments for disease. The Tangney lab at the Cork Cancer Research Centre has recently discovered that bacteria exist in patient tumours, and are the first to describe a "Tumour Microbiome". A wide range of bacteria was found in all patient breast tumours examined, which varied between patients. It remains unknown if any of these bacteria influence tumour growth, positively or negatively. A better understanding of this phenomenon may facilitate appropriate intervention, diagnosis or prevention strategies. Furthermore, certain bacteria found within tumours could be exploited as natural vehicles to deliver therapeutics to tumours.  This project aims to generate key data to improve our understanding of the host--tumour--microbiome ecosystem by:

  • Identifying what and how many bacteria are present;
  • Determining from where these bacteria originate;
  • Examining bacterial growth patterns within the tumour;
  • Examining if there are responses to bacterial presence;
  • Correlating bacterial profile with cancer patient outcomes;
  • Identifying naturally occurring bacteria potentially suitable for exploitation in cancer treatment.

This multidisciplinary programme of research features a collaborative team of cancer researchers, microbiologists and computational biologists, and the PhD student will be trained in a wide range of research techniques and approaches that will facilitate a broad yet thorough education in medical research.


Award Date
30 June 2016
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Mark Tangney
Host Institution
University College Cork
MRCG-HRB Joint Funding Scheme