Division of Microbiome and Cancer

Prof. Dr. Eran Elinav

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Humans have co-evolved with complex consortia of viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites that colonize mucosal surfaces, particularly the gastrointestinal tract, collectively referred to as the microbiota. In mammals, the microbiota can influence many physiologic processes (including development, metabolism, and immunological functions) and changes in the composition of the microbiota are associated with susceptibility to several diseases, including obesity, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease. Additionally, multiple links between microorganisms and cancer have been shown, with altered local microbiota compositions observed in different types of cancer and, more specifically, pathogens such as Helicobacter pylori, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Salmonella typhi, Epstein–Barr virus and human papilloma virus having been associated with carcinogenesis. In addition to its role in carcinogenesis, the intestinal microbiota continues to be linked to the efficacy and toxicity of immunotherapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors and allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation.

At the Division of Microbiome and Cancer, we study the interactions between the mammalian host, the immune system, and the microbiota. Our purpose is elucidating the roles of these factors in carcinogenesis and efficacy of immunotherapy and discovering novel predictive microbial biomarkers for different cancer types and therapy outcome.

We are using both well-established and cutting-edge wet-lab techniques combined with bioinformatic tools to sequence and analyse the microbiome from the oral cavity and gastrointestinal tract, as well as low-biomass samples such as the pancreas and tumour tissue. We combine this approach with integrated multi-omics characterisation of the hosts immune system.

Using translational research approaches we aim to model microbiota perturbations associated with colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and hematologic malignancies in pre-clinical mouse models to understand the mechanisms of microbiota-host cross-talk in these disorders. We investigate how diet or antibiotic-induced dysbiosis affects carcinogenesis in mouse models and study the role of selected bacterial isolates. We also study the longitudinal cross-talk of anti-cancer therapies - chemo- and immunotherapy - with the microbiota in patients and in laboratory mice. In order to transfer this knowledge back into the clinic for the benefit of patients, we are performing precision medicine-based, clinical studies with patient microbiota interventions using specific dietary modifications (Zeevi et al., Cell 2015) or fecal microbiota transfer (Suez et al., Cell 2018).


Prof. Dr. Eran Elinav
Microbiome and Cancer (F220)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg

Elinav Lab at Weizmann Institute of Science

Selected Publications

  • Blacher, E., Bashiardes, S., Shapiro, H. et al. Potential roles of gut microbiome and metabolites in modulating ALS in mice. Nature 572, 474–480 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1443-5
  • Lev-Sagie, A., Goldman-Wohl, D., Cohen, Y. et al. Vaginal microbiome transplantation in women with intractable bacterial vaginosis. Nat Med 25, 1500–1504 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41591-019-0600-6
  • Thaiss, C. A. et al. Hyperglycemia drives intestinal barrier dysfunction and risk for enteric infection. Science 359, 1376-1383 (2018) doi:10.1126/science.aar3318
  • Zeevi, D. et al. Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses. Cell 163, 1079-1094 (2015) doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.11.001
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