Microbiome in Cancer

Solid Cancers

The intestinal microbiota has been linked to a variety of solid cancers, primarily through its role in causing inflammation. In addition, several species including Bacteroides fragilis, Escherichia coli, Fusobacterium nucleatum, and Helicobacter pylori have been specifically implicated in tumor progression in colorectal cancers. Nevertheless, whether the tumor or the microbiota are predominantly driving cancer progression remains an active area of study. Recent studies have discovered that specific species in the tumor microenvironment are able to metabolize chemotherapeutic agents, reducing their efficacy in both colorectal and pancreatic cancers. The major foci of research in our lab are:

Leukemia and Bone Marrow Transplant

The typical treatment for acute leukemia involves multiple rounds of chemotherapy followed by allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (bone marrow transplant). During treatment, multiple rounds of antibiotics are administered to both treat and prevent infection while the immune system is suppressed. These treatments cause damage to the intestinal microbiota that can increase permeability of the intestinal barrier, leading to bloodstream infections. Furthermore, dysbiosis persists following treatment and can lead to the development of graft-versus-host disease. Our lab is working to characterize patterns of dysbiosis that may indicate future complications and develop interventional therapies to restore the intestinal microbiota following treatment.