Immunotherapy is poised to overcome several current limitations for successful interventions against advanced cancers. Dr. William B. Coley, the Father of Cancer Immunotherapy, discovered that bacteria can stimulate immunity and induce tumor regression and long-term remission, and decades later Dr. Lloyd J. Old explored the cancer-fighting potential of myco-bacteria Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG). Inspired by these observations, Dr. Danino will leverage modern approaches from synthetic biology to engineer safe and effective bacterial immunotherapies for cancer.
The main objective of Danino’s research is to engineer probiotic bacteria to target tumors and controllably deliver cancer therapeutics from within, acting as a microbial ‘Trojan horse.’ Since bacteria can selectively colonize solid tumors, they can locally release high concentrations of immune-stimulating as well as toxic payloads. This localized activity may result in fewer side effects from treatment. The specific goals of Dr. Danino’s work will be to utilize synthetic biology approaches to engineer a range of bacterial candidates, and then analyze their interactions with immune cells in tumors to determine the optimal strains with respect to eliciting anti-cancer immune activity. Overall, he hopes his engineered probiotic systems will lead to transformative improvements in cancer therapies, and ultimately improved patient outcomes.
Projects and Grants
Engineering Probiotics as Cancer Immunotherapies
Columbia University | All Cancers | 2020
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