The microbiota―the trillions of bacterial cells in our bodies―plays many important roles. In addition to aiding digestion, “good” bacteria help our immune systems fight off “bad” bacteria. Unfortunately, the microbiota can become unbalanced and cause diseases, including cancer. In colorectal cancer especially, the microbiota influences cancer development and immunotherapy’s effectiveness. However, we don’t know which bacteria promote these effects, so Dr. Lobel is identifying the gut bacteria―and their proteins―that influence T cells’ ability to target cancer, and measuring their levels in both healthy and cancerous tissues. Dr. Lobel plans to test their cancer-related effects in mice, which may lead to insights that can be used to improve treatments for human patients.
I’ve always been fascinated by the effects of bacteria on our health. Now, funding from the Cancer Research Institute allows me to pursue my goal of understanding the role of bacteria in cancer immunology.
Projects and Grants
Identifying novel effectors of the gut microbiota that modulate cancer cells killing by CD8+ T cells using functional metagenomics
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health | All Cancers, Colorectal Cancer | 2016 | Wendy S. Garrett, M.D., Ph.D.
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