Human and Helicobacter pylori co-evolution shapes the risk of gastric disease

This paper was mentioned in this week’s ASM news digest, and it’s a really cool story of how Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium involved in stomach cancer, has co-evolved to exist along with humans.  But, when a human population encounters a  strain of Helicobacter from a different geographic location (an African strain being transmitted to people in South America), it seems to result in a higher incidence of cancer.  The authors evaluated this by looking at populations from 2 towns in Columbia, one with a high rate of stomach cancer and one with a lower rate, though they’re geographically close to one another, then tracing back the ancestry of their colonizing Helicobacter strains.  Really cool stuff!

Link to the original paper in PNAS:  http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/01/08/1318093111

Link to the commentary in Nature:  http://www.nature.com/news/human-microbe-mismatch-boosts-risk-of-stomach-cancer-1.14501

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