The human microbiome consists of trillions of bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms that—for the most part—reside peacefully within our bodies. Through interactions with immune cells, they can generate what’s known as homeostatic immunity, thus regulating tissue health, response to injury, infection, and cancer. In addition to influencing the development of tumors and how they respond to treatment, the microbiome also appears to play a role in metastasis, the deadly process whereby tumors spread to other tissues.
To better understand the microbiome’s impact in metastasis, Dr. Enamorado is using newly generated tools to track T cell responses to a normally beneficial skin bacterium (Staphylococcus) and how those responses are associated with cancer cells’ ability to escape the primary tumor site as well as form new tumors at distant sites. In particular, he believes the metabolism of these T cells might be an important factor in their effectiveness against cancer, one that could potentially be targeted by novel approaches to prevent metastasis.
Projects and Grants
Dissecting how commensal-specific immune response regulates metastasis development
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH | All Cancers, Skin Cancer | 2019 | Yasmine Belkaid, Ph.D.
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