Doctoral fellow - Host-Microbiota Interaction (HMI) lab (UGent) - VIB Center for Inflammation Research (IRC) - Ghent-Gut-Inflammation-Group (GGIG)
Principal investigator: prof. Lars Vereecke (PhD)
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common type of cancer and has a very high mortality rate. Increasing evidence shows that the microbiota influences both cancer initiation, progression and therapeutic response although the underlying mechanisms are
incompletely understood, but involve cross-interaction between microbiota, immune and tumor components. Despite high success rates in other cancer types, immune checkpoint inhibition therapy (ICI), is not efficacious in most prevalent CRC subtypes. Observations in melanoma and lung cancer indicate that microbiota composition is a very important determinant of ICI efficacy. Therefore, we hypothesize that microbiota modulation during ICI therapy is essential to improve its efficacy in CRC. My research is focused on studying the impact of microbiota in CRC immunity and immune therapy, using a unique in house-developed, 100% penetrant mouse model of CRC which is microbiome dependent. During this project, we will study the contribution of various immune components and evaluate immunological and microbiome interventions to assess CRC development and immune therapy efficacy.
This study will open new perspectives for microbiota-immune based diagnostics and therapeutics in CRC. In addition, we believe that our research is interesting for scientists in the microbiome and cancer field, since specific microbiome profiles may be shared among different diseases, thus improving the understanding on different disease mechanisms.