Keren Levanon, MD/PhD
Sheba Fund for Health Service and Research
2019 Pilot Study Award
Microbiome profiling unveils metabolic vulnerabilities of BRCA mutated ovarian cancer
Recent studies have shown that fallopian tubes and other genital track tissues that were previously thought to be sterile actually contain bacteria. These bacteria are believed to cause chronic inflammation which can lead to cancer in the affected tissue. Dr. Levenon and colleagues believe that the microbiome, or the collection of different bacteria, in the fallopian tubes may play a key role in both the initiation and progression of high grade serous ovarian cancer. Their preliminary studies have also found that the composition of bacteria in ovarian tumors differs in tissues from individuals with BRCA mutations and those without BRCA mutations. In this study, Dr. Levenon and colleagues will examine the bacterial composition of high grade serous ovarian cancers and normal fallopian tube tissue from women with different hormone status (premenopausal vs postmenopausal), age, and BRCA status (BRCA mutation vs no BRCA mutation). They will also study some of the metabolic characteristics of the bacteria to understand how they may be “feeding” or contributing to cancer formation. This work may fuel further investigation to define women who are at high risk for ovarian cancer, and impact prevention and identification of novel targets for therapy.