Dinner Short Course: Tuesday, August 29, 6:30-9:00 pm

Microbiome in Immuno-Oncology

Detailed Agenda

6:30 Dinner and Introductions

7:00 The Human Microbiome and Cancer Immunotherapy

Dario Gutierrez, Ph.D., Immuno-Biology Lead, Merck Research Labs Cambridge Exploratory Science Center

Several lines of evidence suggest that the microbiome plays an important role in regulating the tone of immune responses. Cancer immunotherapy has revolutionized cancer treatment, improving progression-free survival and overall survival in comparison to standard-of-care treatments such as chemotherapy. However, despite this vast improvement in the treatment of cancer for some patients, a large percentage of the cancer patient population fails to respond to cancer immunotherapy. Rodent data generated in the last few years have shown compelling evidence that the microbiome plays a role in regulating immune responses after checkpoint inhibition, and that specific bacterial signatures are associated with responders and non-responders to immunotherapy. Careful and comprehensive studies in humans are required to explore the role of the microbiome in patient stratification, as well as the potential of the microbiome as a therapeutic target.

7:45 Coffee Break

8:00 Unravelling Microbiome Signatures for Designing Ecobiotics for Combination with Immunotherapies

Lata Jayaraman, Ph.D., Head, Tumor Immunotherapy, Seres Therapeutics

The human gut microbiome is a diverse, dynamic and complex ecosystem that contains many different types of micro-organisms. Gut microbiota modulate several host processes including metabolism, inflammation and immune and cellular responses. Recent studies have shown that the micobiome can also influence the development of cancer, and equally importantly, tumor response to therapy, especially immunotherapy. It is therefore not inconceivable that therapeutic utility of the microbiome to enhance clinical response is a distinct possibility in the not-so-distant future. This presentation will cover the challenges and advantages of developing the microbiome as a drug.

Topics include:

  • The concept of “reverse translation” as a strategy for microbiome drug discovery
  • Identification of a microbiome signature and its association with treatment and response
  • Use of metagenomics and metabolomics to deconvolute functional fingerprints of complex ecology to identify specific species and strains
  • Integration of computational strategies with empirical phenotyping and screening to drive drug design
  • Designing compositions of microorganisms that form “functional ecological networks” and can impact response to therapy

8:45 Q & A

9:00 Close of course

Instructor Biographies

Dario_GutierrezDario Gutierrez, Ph.D., Immuno-Biology Lead, Merck Research Labs Cambridge Exploratory Science Center

Dr. Dario Gutierrez is the Immuno-Biology Lead for the Merck Research Labs Cambridge Exploratory Science Center. Previously, he led the Immune Tolerance group at Evelo Biosciences in Cambridge, MA. He received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from California State University, San Bernardino, a Ph.D. from the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics in the laboratory of Dr. Alyssa Hasty at Vanderbilt University, and performed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Hans-Reimer Rodewald at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Germany. He has authored multiple publications on the role of the immune system in metabolic and autoimmune diseases, and current work focuses on understanding the modulation of human immune responses by commensal and pathogenic microorganisms.

Lata_JayaramanLata Jayaraman, Ph.D., Head, Tumor Immunotherapy, Seres Therapeutics

Dr. Lata Jayaraman is a veteran of the Bio-pharmaceutical industry with over 15 years’ leadership experience spanning both large pharma and small biotech. She is currently the Head of Tumor Immunotherapy at Seres Therapeutics in Cambridge, where her team’s focus is to discover and develop a new class of microbiome-based medicines that can be used in combination with immunotherapy agents for treatment of cancer. Previously, Dr. Jayaraman was at Cerulean Pharma, a nanotechnology platform company, where she was the Director, Pharmacology and Translational Research, for their Oncology and Immuno-Oncology programs. Prior to Cerulean, she was Director of Oncology & Immuno-Oncology at Merck Research Laboratories, responsible for oversight of targets from early validation up to Phase I. Dr. Jayaraman started her career in the Oncology group at Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. where she held positions of increasing responsibility for over a decade.