Hyun Jung Kim, Ph.D., Technology Impact Award RecipientUniversity of Texas at Austin

The patient-specific colorectal cancer chip will potentially unveil the role of the human gut microbiome on the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy.
Area of Research: Colorectal Cancer

Checkpoint immunotherapy, which unleashes T cells against tumors, has changed the way we treat several types of advanced cancers in the clinic. Interestingly, recent studies have revealed that the gut microbiome—the bacteria that reside in our intestinal tract—can influence the development of colorectal cancer as well as how patients respond to immunotherapy. However, it’s still unclear how certain bacteria exert their impact.

Therefore, Dr. Kim is building a colorectal cancer-on-a-chip (CRC Chip) device capable of mimicking the three-dimensional (3D) tumor microenvironment where colorectal cancer cells, gut bacteria, and immune cells interact. Additionally, this device will contain a vasculature component, which plays an important role in the development of immune responses, and will enable Kim and his team to visualize immune responses in real-time. Using this microengineered CRC Chip, they are seeking to unravel how gut bacteria interact with tumor cells and influence how they respond to cancer-targeting T cells in the context of cancer immunotherapy. Overall, this patient-specific CRC chip model could help uncover insights into the relationship between cancer and bacteria and pave the way for the development of novel microbiome-based immunotherapies for colorectal cancer as well as other cancer types.

Projects and Grants

A pathomimetic colorectal cancer-on-a-chip for unveiling the role of gut microbiome on cancer immunotherapy

University of Texas at Austin | Colorectal Cancer | 2019

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