Lung Biome Role in The Cancer Journal

A new review article in The Cancer Journal by two UI Health Hematology/Oncology Fellows under the mentorship of University of Illinois Cancer Center member Frank Weinberg, MD, PhD, examines the role of the lung microbiome in cancer formation and immunotherapy treatment.

Fellows and first authors Kathleen Kennedy, MD, and Karam Khaddour, MD, contributed equally to the article, “The Lung Microbiome in Carcinogenesis and Immunotherapy Treatment,” published in the March/April2023 issue of the journal. Weinberg is part of the Cancer Center’s Translational Oncology research program.

Immunotherapy Treatment

While lung cancer still causes more deaths than any other cancer in the United States, patient outcomes have improved because of treatment advances, including immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) blockade. Understanding biomarkers in in patients who respond and don’t respond to ICI will lead to new targets that could enhance ICI efficacy, the authors wrote.

The authors highlight that the gut microbiome has been identified as a biomarker for ICI response in patients with melanoma and that “it is now appreciated that other host microbiomes play a role in tumorigenesis and response to ICI.”

Research Findings

“Multiple studies have shown that the lung microbiome is a central mediator of disease state within the lung. Although the lung microbiome has been well characterized in pulmonary disease states such as asthma and cystic fibrosis, characterization in patients with lung cancer has only recently been realized. Lung microbiome dysbiosis (an imbalance in bacteria and other microbes) is potentially an important event in tumor initiation and promotion,” the authors conclude.

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