Bacteria Deliver a Genotoxic Hit

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Science  05 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6103, pp. 52-53
DOI: 10.1126/science.1229905

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The adult human intestine contains up to 100 trillion bacteria that are beneficial to our metabolism and health (1). This microbiota is separated from the intestinal wall anatomically and functionally, thus preventing bacterial invasion and inflammatory responses. However, control mechanisms that ensure a symbiotic relationship between host and microbiota can fail in many diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (2), complications of which may lead to colorectal cancer. On page 120 of this issue, Arthur et al. (3) provide evidence for a molecular link between the host immune response, the bacterial microbiota, and genotoxic events in inflammation-associated colorectal cancer.