Cancer immunotherapies and the gut

Posted 7 Nov 2018

What goes on in our gut could influence how we fight cancer.

The combination of microbiota (the microorganisms) in our gut may have a profound impact on determining our risk of developing cancer, and our likelihood of responding well to exciting new cancer treatments known as immunotherapies, which activate our own immune system to fight cancer.

Associate Professor David Lynn, an EMBL Australia Group Leader at Flinders University and at SAHMRI, intends to use his Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to find out if and how our gut microbiota can influence responses to cancer immunotherapies; whether the microbiota influence the efficacy of these new immunotherapies, or determine adverse responses which may limit the clinical application of these otherwise promising therapies.

Professor Lynn’s research could help identify bacteria in the gut of cancer patients that determine who will respond well to immunotherapy, versus those who may require additional or alternative treatments.

This research is made possible thanks to generous support from the community and our partners Mr Riggs Wine Company, Foodland and Bay to Birdwood.

Project title: The role of gut microbiota in the efficacy and toxicity of agonistic antibody cancer immunotherapies.

Lead researcher: Professor David Lynn


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