Identifying novel treatments for bowel cancer
Dr Elizabeth Mann is a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Fiona Powrie’s muscosal immunology group based at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology within the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences.
Dr Mann and her fellow researchers are interested in new approaches to treat bowel cancer by looking to better understand the intricate roles of the immune system and microbiome in cancer, so that they can target these to improve treatment.
We have a community of microorganisms living inside of us that outnumber our own cells and are highly enriched in the gut. There is growing evidence that changes to the microbiome composition may be a causative factor for many diseases, including cancer, making the microbiome a potential target for treatment. The hope is that Dr Mann’s work will identify treatments that, importantly, will be beneficial for those patients who don’t currently have effective treatment options.
One aspect of Dr Mann’s project is a part of the international collaboration OPTIMISTICC, funded by one of our Cancer Grand Challenge grants, and which aims to manipulate the microbiome to beat bowel cancer. As part of this consortium, the Oxford team is looking at how the microbiome alters tumour biology. One way they will do this is by growing organoids, which are self-renewing 3D tissue cultures, using stem cells from patients and looking at how adding different microbes impacts their function. This system can also be used to look at interactions with the immune system as well as therapies that are currently approved for bowel cancer treatment.