The small intestine tissue on the left is healthy, with no breaks in the cell layer lining the gut cavity whereas the tissue on the right is from a donor recipient with GVHD.

Bone marrow and stem cell transplants are important therapies for cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma that develop in blood forming tissues. While effective, the transplant process is complicated by the development of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). GVHD occurs when immune cells within the donated tissue/cells view the recipient’s body as foreign. The donated tissue/cells attack the recipient’s body, resulting in inflammation. This occurs in ~50% of transplant patients.

Changes within the gut microbiota are known to influence both the frequency and severity of GVHD.   This is an important consideration because antibiotics may be administered to the recipient prior to transplantation. In this project, we are using mouse models to:

1) Investigate the gut microbiome in mouse strains deficient in key cell types within the immune system

2) Tease apart the role of the gut microbiota in the development of GVHD

3) Determine which/whether antibiotics should be used prior to transplant

Staff: 
Principal investigator: Prof. Phil Hugenholtz
Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Dr. Kate Ormerod
Clinical Program Coordinator: Ms. Nancy Lachner

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