Unravelling the Role of Gut Microbiome in Anal Cancer: A Project Update

In our continued mission to advance cancer research, the Sussex Cancer Fund proudly supports Dr. Hamish Sinclair’s groundbreaking project, which explores the intricate relationship between the gut microbiome and chemoradiotherapy for anal cancer.

Anal cancer is predominantly treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The project focuses on studying the gut bacteria in patients with anal cancer, a relatively unexplored area in cancer research.


Project Overview:

The project aims to understand how gut bacteria influence cancer development and treatment response in anal cancer patients. It involves analysing how the faecal microbiota of anal cancer patients changes before and after radical chemoradiotherapy (CRT). By analysing samples from patients in the PLATO ACT 5 trial (an existing trial), the study explores whether gut bacteria affect treatment responses and side effects. The findings could inform future studies on how altering gut bacteria might impact patient outcomes.

The project uses a method called 16S rRNA gene sequencing and metabolomic analysis to study samples from faeces and urine. It also checks how well patients respond to treatment, the side effects, and any late side effects using different measures. The study started recruiting patients in January 2023, and so far, 20 patients have joined the microbiome sub-study. 

Project Update:

Recruitment for the PLATO microbiome sub-study concluded in August 2023, with 20 patients providing samples from 10 UK oncology centres. While recruitment fell short of the initial target, the team remains confident in obtaining sufficient data to answer research questions. Dr. Sinclair presented the project’s design and methods at the 2nd IMACC conference, receiving enthusiastic feedback. The final samples were collected in December 2023, and data analysis is anticipated in early 2024.


We wish Dr. Hamish Sinclair the best in his ongoing efforts and express our sincere gratitude for his dedication so far. As we eagerly await the results of Dr. Sinclair’s crucial work, we invite our supporters to contribute to projects like these. Your donations can make a meaningful impact on cancer research, bringing us one step closer to improved treatments and outcomes.


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