While cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, existing therapies are frequently not successful and present critical side-effects. Therefore, new cancer therapies are urgently needed. It is known that colorectal cancer patients (CRC) have a dysbiotic microbiota towards the reduction of bacteria from the order Clostridiales. In this context, Ana Montalban Arques and her team have found that a mix of Clostridiales bacteria (CC4), that was reduced in CRC patients compared to healthy controls, was sufficient to trigger anti-tumor immune responses not only in orthotopic and heterotopic CRC tumor models, but unexpectedly also in melanoma, breast cancer and lung cancer mouse models.
Based on these finding Ana Montalban-Arques plans to develop the supplementation with CC4 as stand-alone therapy. The therapy has several advantages, it would be non-invasive and is not known to affect other tissues than the tumor, hence no side effects. Additionally, it may improve the effects of immunotherapy, as existing results show that immune infiltration into the tumor is enhanced when CC4 is applied. Therefore, the new anti-tumor therapy also opens up new therapy options for tumors where treatment alternatives are currently limited.
With the fellowship Ana Montalban-Argues will develop a formulation of a more storage-stable, lyophilized bacteria and test the efficacy, safety, and toxicology of this formulation in preclinical in vivo models. The final goal is to bring this project into IND-enabling studies.
Affiliation: Prof. Michael Scharl
Ana presents her project at the Falling Walls Science Summit and wins the Emerging Talents category - 1st Prize at the Falling Walls Competition in 2021