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Could a saliva swab detect cancer presence? Researchers are closer than ever to using such noninvasive biomarker tests as diagnostic tools. Why? Well, it’s all about balance, even at the smallest level. Researcher Mahmoud Ghannoum joins Richard to discuss the interactions of the human microbiome.

Listen and learn

  • What he’s found through studies on cancer and digestive health regarding microbiome species abundance and richness,
  • Why biofilms result from a particular microbiome combination and how his research has found ways to inhibit these films for Crohn’s disease patients, and
  • How these findings can be used to generate probiotics and bio therapeutics to address health and disease and a healthy microbiome for cancer therapy.

Mahmoud Ghannoum is a professor in the Department of Pathology and Dermatology with the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. He also started a company called Biohm Health, which uses microbiology to develop therapeutics for human microbiome health based on gut microbiome research. Microbiome communities live all over us and inside of us, he says, and he researches how they impact our health.

He explains that the microbiome is made up of bacterial and fungal communities. The balance between pathogenic and healthy species and the interactions between each community has dynamic health implications, which is why scientist are connecting healthy microbiomes and cancer prevention. When these communities are out of balance, scientist call this dysbiosis.

His extensive studies on tongue cancer and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma showed a connection between cancer and the microbiota. The species diversity and richness of bacteria and fungi both decreased in tumor groups. In the case of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, he was also able to look at metabolites and found high levels of 2-hydroxyglutarate, which means this chemical can serve as a biomarker of disease, enabling noninvasive diagnosis.

In 2016, he also published a well-known study showing how pathogenic bacteria and fungi in microbiomes interact and secrete polysaccharides that form biofilms in the guts of Crohn’s disease patients. He’s developing a therapy to remove these biofilms by inhibiting the hyphae growth of a candida species. He continues to research effective ways to bring health through microbiome balance.

For more information, see biohmhealth.com.

Available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/2Os0myK

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