An in vitro study conducted by a group of researchers at São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Araraquara, Brazil, shows how fungi and bacteria can activate genes associated with head and neck tumors, as the metabolism of biofilms (communities in which these microorganisms self-organize in a structured and coordinated manner) stimulate tumor cells by favoring the cell signaling pathways required for tumor development and resistance to treatment. The findings include entirely novel information on the links between microbial biofilms and cell behavior in head and neck cancer.
The researchers discovered that metabolites secreted by biofilms, termed the secretome, can modulate the expression of proto-oncogenes and cell cycle genes associated with tumor cell growth and survival. Their analysis of gene expression focused on two signaling pathways (EGFR/RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK and EGFR/PI3K/AKT/mTOR) that play a key role in tumor cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival. Alterations to gene expression in these pathways are highly prevalent in various types of tumor.
The researchers analyzed head and neck and oral cavity squamous