Matthew Griffin, PhD

Abeloff V Scholar*

In just over the past 10 years, new drugs that improve our own immune system’s ability to clear tumor cells have become an incredibly powerful class of cancer treatments. These therapies known as immune checkpoint inhibitors or ICIs work broadly against many different tumors, providing hope for many patients to better fight off their cancer. However, each patient is unique, and ICIs can work better for some patients than others. There are many reasons for these differences, including a person’s genetics, their type of cancer, and their environment. Recently, studies including our own have shown that microbes in our bodies also affect how well ICIs stop the growth of tumors. In our lab, we aim to understand how these microbes function during cancer treatment. We focus on how microbes make molecules that stimulate our immune system, which work with ICIs to fully activate tumor-fighting cells. In our work sponsored by The V Foundation, we will find new enzymes to make these active molecules. Using these enzymes, we will build better probiotics and test whether they can help to clear ICI-resistant tumors. Together, these studies will advance our long-term goals to understand how gut microbes affect cancer treatment and to generate new bio-based therapies that improve outcomes for cancer patients.

Location: Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center - Irvine
Proposal: Developing precision probiotics to overcome melanoma resistance to anti-PD-1 therapy

*The research project that receives the highest rating by the Scientific Advisory Committee is annually designated as the Abeloff V Scholar. This award is in honor of the late Martin D. Abeloff, MD, a beloved member of the Scientific Advisory Committee.
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