Micromarker Project: the role of fungi as modulators of the microbiota in colorectal cancer

  • The role of bacteria present in the microbiota or intestinal flora in the development and progression of colorectal cancer
  • Can modulating the composition of the microbiota also alter the inflammatory profile and affect tumour development?
  • Micromarker will conclude with a clinical trial on cancer patients with the collaboration of Spanish University Hospital


The collaborative Research and Development (R & D) Micromarker project, led by Hifas da Terra (HdT), will evaluate the relationship between modulation of the intestinal microbiota and the progression of colorectal cancer. In addition, the study will explore the effect of the use of fungi-derived prebiotics and anti-inflammatory compounds on the quality of life of cancer patients.

Bacteria present in the microbiota or intestinal flora may play a role in the development and progression of colorectal cancer, modulating its composition. They may also alter the inflammatory profile and affect tumour development.

Research and Development Project outline

The framework for this project, which will be carried out over the next four years, concludes its final phase with the first clinical trial in Spain, with the collaboration of a public university hospital, on the effect of fungi-derived compounds on the large intestine and inflammatory markers in the progression of colorectal cancer. The research will gather both qualitative and quantitative results of the effects on the microbiota. Observations will also be made on the possible modifications to the microbiota from the complementary use of prebiotic products developed from fungi.

Cultivo biorreactores hifasdaterra
In this image we can see the detail of the biological processes carried out in the R & D department and the HdT microbiology laboratory for the cultivation of certain fungi species in bioreactors / Hifas da Terra ®


Dysbiosis and colorectal cancer

Although certain genetic factors contribute to the appearance of colorectal cancer, the microbiota or intestinal flora, seems to play an important role in its development and progression and in the quality of life of patients with this disease. Dysbiosis, or the imbalance of microorganisms present in the normal microbiota, is a common feature in patients with cancer of the colon and rectum. Inflammation and the development of chronic inflammation are two of the most important mechanisms in relation to the disease.

“Based on previous evidence, this pioneering study in Spain will analyse the prebiotic and anti-inflammatory activity of medicinal mushrooms that have demonstrated these effects in previous international clinical studies and cell lines,” explains Catalina Fernández de Ana, biologist specialising in Mycotherapy and the general director of Hifas da Terra.

Seta de cardo, Pleurotus eryngii ecológica de Hifas da Terra.
The prebiotic action of the mycological species, Thistle mushroom (Pleurotus eryngii), has been studied in many scientific articles. Here is a snapshot of its organic cultivation at Hifas da Terra. / Hifas da Terra ®

Micromarker phases

The Micromarker project includes studies similar to those of the trial in different models and the analysis of in vitro prebiotic and anti-inflammatory activity of products developed with fungi. Those products that present greater prebiotic activity will be combined with strains of fungal probiotics provided by consortium companies to obtain conclusive results of this synergistic relationship.

In the initial phases of the project, which will start in the coming months, new prebiotics will be developed from strains of medicinal fungi of Galician origin, which will provide valuable data on their molecular composition, specifically on the beta-glucans and proteins that they are made of.  

This initiative has the support of the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), the financing mediator for the general administration of business research development and innovation projects in Spain.

El equipo del CDTI visita las instalaciones de Hifas da Terra
During the CDTI visit to Bora, Hifas da Terra’s headquarters, the research team had the opportunity to explain the details of the oncology R&D projects that are being carried out. . / Hifas da Terra ®

Role of the microbiota in the appearance and development of tumour growth

The microbiota or intestinal flora is the essential colony of bacteria (plus virus, fungi and yeasts), which lives  in the human intestine maintaining a symbiotic relationship. Most of these bacteria are beneficial to the body because they participate in numerous physiological processes such as the metabolism of certain carbohydrates, the activation of the immune system, the regulation of the growth of intestinal cells and the synthesis of certain vitamins, such as vitamins K and B group vitamins.

The modulation of microbiota-derived lipopolysaccharides, which are involved in various inflammatory and metabolic pathologies, could be useful in a variety of patients, from those suffering from obesity to colorectal cancer. “We have already studied the effect of fungi on the immune system, but this trial will allow us to assess their ability to modify the intestinal microbiota and how fungal extracts act positively against certain markers, such as inflammation.” adds Catalina Fernández de Ana.

See Press Release (PDF)

In Hifas da Terra we use biotechnology, innovation and ecology to develop formulas that help health care from the bioactive substances of mushrooms and medicinal mushrooms that we research, produce, extract and purify.

Learn more about our Research