Gut Check Event Recap: Drs. Disis & Cecil discuss what gut bacteria are teaching us about targeting



Cancer Vaccine Institute volunteers Norm Slonaker, Susan Bevan, and Kristi Blair, recently hosted a virtual event called “Gut Check” with Dr. Nora Disis (CVI Director) and Dr. Denise Cecil (Principal Scientist) that was attended by patients, donors, and other community members. The focus of the event was to spotlight new CVI research on the link between the bacteria in our gut and how our immune system responds to cancer. This work stems from our observation that, while most patients in our studies show a strong anti-cancer immune response to our vaccines, there are some patients who do not respond as well. Our team asked: “What might be causing vaccines to be less effective in some patients?” We think we’ve found one of the answers and it lies in the bacteria in our gut, our microbiome!


During the event, Dr. Cecil shares the underlying biology of the phenomenon; that the mechanisms that protect our beneficial gut bacteria (microbiome) from our immune system might also protect cancer cells. She also described a blood test the CVI has developed to help us understand the link between gut bacteria, cancer growth, and treatment response in many different types of cancers.


Dr. Disis discusses how this knowledge is helping us develop strategies such as cancer-fighting probiotics to activate the immune system to eliminate cancer. She shared the vision that when patients are getting ready to receive a vaccine, their physicians may use this blood test to determine if tailored probiotics would improve their response to vaccines and other immune therapies. Our ultimate goal is to use cancer vaccines and other immune therapies to eliminate cancer in all patients.


You can watch a complete recording of the Gut Check event here: https://youtu.be/eo22ck4EglQ.