Grants - V Scholar Grants - California - 2018

Ami Bhatt, M.D., Ph.D.

Funded in partnership with the SAGERSTRONG Foundation in memory of Craig Sager

There are trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi inside each and every human. We call this the microbiome. Scientists have found that the microbiome can change how cancer grows and how people respond to cancer therapies. Our lab wants to make the lives of cancer patients better by improving their microbiomes. The usual ways to change the microbiome are through diet, antibiotics, and by eating live bacteria in food. An example of a food with live bacteria is active culture yogurt. We are doing an experiment to see if a special type of fiber can improve the human microbiome. This fiber is digested by specific bacteria in the gut. When it is digested, it is turned into molecules that control the human immune system. We are giving cancer patients this fiber to see if we can increase these immune system-controlling molecules. If this works, we will prevent the immune system from doing harm in cancer patients. We hope to help patients like those who get blood and marrow transplants for treatment of leukemia or lymphoma. Once we understand how these fibers and our microbes change the immune system, we can figure out precise ways to use this knowledge to make the immune system work better. For example, we may be able to make exciting new cancer therapies, like immunotherapy, work better.