Shipud writes: A recent study by a group at the University of Maryland School of Medicine shows that bacterial DNA gets transferred to human cells, in a process known as lateral gene transfer, or LGT. LGT is known to occur quite commonly between bacteria, including bacteria of different species. In fact, that is how antibiotic resistance is transferred so quickly. The team has shown that certain types of tumor cells acquire bacterial DNA that may play a role in tumor progression. Another group at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill has shown that gut inflammation leads to a radical change in the microbial population there, which encourages growth of E. coli that can disrupt the inflamed cells' DNA, leading to cancer. Both studies enable us to ask new questions such as: how does inflammation change the landscape for bacterial colonization? Can bacteria indeed harness inflammation — and then cancer — to flourish and remove competitors from their newly found ecosystem? And can we use this information to fight cancer?