Grants - V Scholar Grants - Maryland - 2014

Karen Sandell Sfanos, Ph.D.

Human-associated bacterial communities (e.g., the “microbiome”) are an integral part of the healthy human body, yet pathogenic shifts leading to increased and/or decreased diversity in the healthy-state microbiome composition are linked to disease development. We hypothesize that prostate infections that result from pathogenic shifts in the urinary tract microbiome contribute to prostate cancer development. As such, we aim to investigate associations between altered urogenital microbiome signatures and the presence of prostate cancer and/or high grade disease. Furthermore, we aim to correlate urinary tract microbiome signatures to prostatic inflammation in prostate cancer patients, as we hypothesize that microorganisms that may contribute to prostate cancer etiology do so via the induction of chronic inflammation in the prostate. These studies can be coupled to ongoing studies in our laboratory aimed at the identification of microbial signatures in prostate cancer tissues, and ongoing efforts to identify causal microorganisms in prostate cancer etiology. The proposed research project will represent an essential initial study linking urinary tract microbiome to genitourinary disease. Whereas the project is primarily focused on prostate cancer, this work may lay the important groundwork for additional studies linking urinary tract microbiome to other genitourinary malignancies such as kidney, urothelial, or bladder cancer.