Dallas Donohoe, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, conducts research on the mechanisms that give rise to the anti-cancer effects derived from diet. These anti-cancer effects are derived from dietary metabolites that inhibit cell growth and cause cell death selectively in colorectal cancer cells.
Donohoe’s work will help pave the way toward providing non-toxic dietary strategies to combat colorectal cancer. In a recent article in the journal Cancer Discovery (impact factor 15.9), Donohoe and his team were able to determine the importance of certain bacteria that reside in the colon. These bacteria, in conjunction with a high fiber diet, play an important role in fighting colorectal cancer. Specifically, they found that the bacterial metabolite called butyrate, which is a fermentation product of fiber, inhibits colorectal cancer and that this effect is dependent on having a specific type of bacteria in the colon. This work helps us understand how the bacteria living in our intestinal tract influence a disease like cancer and the significance of diet in this relationship.
This publication in Cancer Discovery is an example of the level of impact that Donohoe’s work is having on the field. He and his collaborators have also published in other high impact journals including Molecular Cell (impact factor 15.3) and Cell Metabolism (impact factor 17.9). This important research focuses on understanding the functional significance of dietary fiber and one of its microbial derived metabolites in cancer.