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How Bacteria Influence Our Health and Immunity

November 04, 2020

It might be hard to believe, but trillions of bacteria call our body home. They live in us and on us, mostly in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract and on our skin. Together, along with viruses, fungi, and other microscopic organisms, they comprise what’s known as our microbiome. 

Recently, the microbiome has become an exciting new area of cancer research, so we invited Gregory F. Sonnenberg, Ph.D., to highlight the latest science regarding the microbiome and what it might mean for the future of cancer care.

Dr. Sonnenberg is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology in medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, and last year became one of the first five scientists chosen to be funded through CRI’s prestigious new Lloyd J. Old STAR program. Previously, Sonnenberg has received the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, the Searle Scholar Award, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award, and has appeared on the Forbes list of rising stars transforming Science and Healthcare.

Among the topics Dr. Sonnenberg covered are:

  • the benefits that a healthy microbiome can provide
  • how the microbiome can influence cancer development 
  • the microbiome’s impact on existing cancers and treatments
  • what we know about how to boost one’s microbiome
  • microbiome-based treatments currently being evaluated against cancer
  • the future of the microbiome field

Overall, when it comes to the microbiome, Sonnenberg noted that “it's very important to consider it in the context of environment, lifestyle, genetics, tumor microenvironment” and emphasized that we’ll need “to integrate the microbiome into all of these aspects of cancer research for a broader understanding of these pathways, in order to determine how we can really effectively harness the microbiome to fight cancer.”

To learn more about this fascinating field, be sure to watch our full-length webinar with Dr. Sonnenberg, and for more on other cancer immunotherapy-related insights, check out past CRI webinars.

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*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.