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Ravid Straussman, MD, PhD

Ravid Straussman, MD, PhD

Grant Status
Active

Institution
Weizmann Institute of Science

Grant Type
The ICRF - Mark Foundation for Cancer Research Project Grant

Project Title
The microbiome of glioblastoma multiforme and the normal brain: Characterization and translational opportunities

Tumor Types

Research Topics
BacterioOncology, Brain Cancer, Drug Resistance, Targeted Therapies


About the Investigator:

Dr. Straussman graduated from the MD/PhD program of Hebrew University/Hadassah Medical School and did his medical internship at the Rabin Medical Center. After completing his postdoctoral training at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, he joined the Weizmann Institute as a principal investigator. The Straussman lab studies the tumor microenvironment and the tumor microbiome, with a special focus on how non-cancerous components in the tumor microenvironment affect the response of cancer cells to cytotoxic, targeted, and immune-mediated, anti-cancer therapies.

About the Research:

Bacteria are part of the human body, and their total number may exceed the number of human cells. Traditional analyses described bacteria on the skin and in the gastrointestinal tract but, in the last few years, it has been shown that bacteria are also found in many human tumors. The Straussman lab has been a leader in characterizing the presence of intra-tumor bacteria and their functions in various types of solid tumors. For example, the lab demonstrated that bacteria can be found in human pancreatic tumors and may contribute to drug resistance. Those bacteria were shown to “hide” inside the cancer cells and protect them from the commonly used, anti-cancer drug, gemcitabine, by degrading the drug and inactivating it.

Dr. Straussman and his team now propose to study the role of bacteria in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common brain tumor, for which treatment options are very limited. They have demonstrated that bacteria are commonly found in these tumors, and they have collected a large number of human GBM tumor samples for further systematic analysis. They will study the identity and location of bacteria in these tumors. At the same time, they will study the presence of bacteria in the normal human brain. While we usually think of our brain as sterile, preliminary results from the Straussman lab show the opposite. The Straussman laboratory’s unique collection of cancerous and normal brain tissues should afford them the opportunity to meticulously characterize bacteria in the normal brain and in tumors of the brain, and to ask how bacteria affect responses to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and the tumor immune landscape. They hope that their findings can lead to completely new options for therapy.

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