Woolcock Institute of Medical Research

Network Projects
Core translational project 4

Core translational project 4

Role of Microbiome in Lung Diseases and Immunotherapy

About this project: Very important evidence is emerging that the naturally occurring microbes in the gastrointestinal tract (gut microbiome) can interact with the body’s immune system to influence the efficacy of immunotherapy. Dysbiosis (a microbial imbalance or maladaptation) in the gut lowers the body’s immune defences. This has important implications for immunotherapy.  It has been shown that dysbiosis can prevent immunotherapy from acting on its target, the tumour in the lung and other distant organs. Dysbiosis can be caused by diverse factors such as antibiotics, poor diet or alcohol misuse. Conversely, good bacteria in the gut can help the immune system attack the tumour. 

This long-term project is conducted in collaboration with clinicians and researchers at Royal Prince Alfred, St George and Sutherland Hospitals, Microbiome Research Centre UNSW and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. The aim is to determine how the human microbiome is altered in lung diseases and to identify the microbiome profiles that increase the efficacy of immunotherapy or are associated with resistance. 

The findings of this research could have a major impact on the development of suitable interventions/supplements/adjunct therapy such as medical probiotics or inhalers, which will optimise the efficacy of immunotherapy for patients with lung cancer.

About the Team Leaders: Professor Maija Kohonen-Corish (Director, Woolcock Centre for Lung Cancer Research), Dr Anna McLean (PhD student, Respiratory Physician), Dr Steven Kao (Chris O’Brien Lifehouse), Professor Wendy Cooper (RPA)

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