Noam Auslander, PhD

This research aims to improve cancer treatment, specifically immunotherapy. My lab will identify factors that determine patients’ immunotherapy responses. We already know that microbes in our gut impact cancer treatment. For example, research shows that a fecal microbiota transplant can overcome immunotherapy resistance. At first, our goal was to identify which microbes impact immune responses. However, a difficulty for this research was that the regions we live in change which types of microbes are in our gut. This is a problem because it makes it hard to validate findings between regions. Our work revealed that it is not the species of microbe that impacts immunotherapy responses, as we first thought. Instead, it is the types of proteins produced by these microbes that matter. Different species of bacteria can make similar proteins, and it is these proteins that drive immune responses. We developed a new strategy to identify the proteins that bacteria are producing in the gut. Our approach reveals a relationship between proteins and treatment response. We verified this relationship in melanoma patients from different regions. For our next steps, we propose identifying non-invasive immunotherapy biomarkers. We will do this with the fecal microbiome. We expect that our research will improve clinical decisions and treatment outcomes.

Location: Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center of The Wistar Institute - Philadelphia
Proposal: Fecal microbial biomarkers of immunotherapy benefit and adverse events in melanoma
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