Quadram Institute researchers have joined a collaboration to investigate whether the microbiome can be used to predict how breast cancer patients will respond to immunotherapy. It’s hoped that this will help tailor future treatments, personalised for each patient.
Prof. Lindsay Hall and Dr Stephen Robinson’s groups will work with Dr Tim Robinson at the University of Bristol on the CALADRIO project, which is being led by MEDSIR, a clinical trials company based in Spain.
Dr Tim Robinson’s laboratory analyses genomic and epigenetics risk factors in breast cancer, where they are currently investigating molecular factors that could help to predict patient response to chemotherapy. Prof. Hall and Dr Robinson’s research teams explore the host/microbiota crosstalk, with a special interest on how microbes can beneficially impact host responses and immune regulation.
This collaboration will be initially focused on the CALADRIO project, which is aimed at investigating the microbiota as a predictor of response to immunotherapy in patients with luminal metastatic breast cancer (MBC). CALADRIO originates as a sub-study of the KELLY trial, which assessed the efficacy and safety of eribulin combined with the immune checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab in HR+ / HER2- MBC. KELLY patients experienced a clinical benefit independently of their PD-L1 status, suggesting that additional biomarkers to PD-L1 would be required to properly identify the best responders to immunotherapy.
Recently, reports have shown that the gut microbiome influences the outcome of cancer therapy by modulating the host inflammatory response, suggesting a direct correlation between microbiota-mediated immune reactions and efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as pembrolizumab. Through the analysis of oral and faecal samples from the 44 patients enrolled in KELLY, CALADRIO was conceived to decipher the complex interplay between the microbiota, the immune system, and the response to pembrolizumab-based treatment.
The combined expertise of the three groups will be key to optimising the analysis and interpretation of the samples from CALADRIO shedding light on the role of microbiota as a possible biomarker of response to immunotherapy.
Thanks to CALADRIO, MEDSIR hopes to move one step forward in personalised medicine, helping clinicians to tailor medical treatments to the individual characteristics of each patient.