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The tumor microbial communities: Characterization, effects and translational opportunities

Project description

Characterisation of the tumour microbiome

Bacteria found on our skin, in the intestine and other parts of our body have been extensively studied. Recent evidence indicates that bacteria, fungi and viruses also colonise tumours. The EU-funded Tumor microbiome project aims to characterise the molecular signature of the microbiome of different types of cancer and study their impact on tumour biology and response to therapy. Understanding the crosstalk between tumour bacteria and tumour immunity is central to improving the clinical outcome of immunotherapy. Moreover, bacteria can be exploited for the delivery of novel anticancer therapeutics.


The human body is host to a huge number of bacteria. While bacteria were first detected in human tumors over 150 years ago, our knowledge about their number, identity or effects in different human tumor types is still mostly rudimentary.

Over the last few years we focused on studying the tumor microbiome. We developed multiple methods to characterize and visualize intra-tumor bacteria, taking special measures to tell apart true tumor-bacteria from contamination. Profiling over 1,800 human tumors and normal adjacent tissues demostrated that bacteria are prevalent in many tumor types and that each tumor type has a unique microbial signature.

This application aims to capitalize on our cutting-edge research tools, vast experience and comprehensive preliminary data to shed light on the uncharted field of the tumor microbiome. We plan to:

(1) Characterize the different microbial communities (bacteria, fungi, others) and their dynamics in human tumors. We strive to provide a near complete narrative of how bacteria are distributed in the tumor, their association with immune cells and their dynamic changes with tumor development, metastasis and drug treatments.

(2) Study the effects that microbial communities may have on tumor biology, focusing primarily on tumor microbiome-mediated drug resistance and on tumor microbiome effects on tumor-associated macrophages.

(3) Exploit intra-tumor microbial communities for translational opportunities and novel therapeutics, in particular as an adjunct to current mainstay therapy or delivering innovative therapeutics via live bacteria.

Thus, this project will transform our understanding of the structure and function of intra-tumor microbial communities and will pave the way for us, as well as many others, to translate our findings into novel therapeutic options for cancer patients.



Net EU contribution
€ 2 000 000,00
Herzl street 234
7610001 Rehovot

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)