Using the Microbiome and Immune System to Better Understand and Treat Oral Cancer

Help Take the Bite Out of Cancer
Giving Tuesday | November 27, 2018

Using the Microbiome and Immune System to Better Understand and Treat Oral Cancer

Help Take the Bite Out of Cancer
Giving Tuesday | November 27, 2018

You are here

Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases people face. And oral cancers are some of the most vexing to treat. Oral squamous cell carcinoma or OSCC, a very common type of head and neck cancer, characterized by visible tumor lesions in the mouth, affects more than 450,000 people each year. Approximately 60% of new cases are diagnosed during its later stages when the cancer is already metastatic. These alarming statistics are motivating JCVI researchers to focus their efforts on this disease, but we need your help during Giving Tuesday.



The Microbiome

The microbiome, the vast array of microbes that live in and on the human body, plays an important role in our health and the onset of disease. At JCVI we have been leading the way in this exciting area of science for nearly two decades. The molecular markers or signatures of these microbes found both in the person and in cancerous lesions are unique to them. Thus, they can be attractive targets for diagnostics and vaccine candidates, and even improved therapeutics beyond surgery and chemotherapy.

Project Leaders

Project Goals

The team will characterize the microbial composition in cancerous and non-cancerous oral tissue to determine the variation between the two tissue types. Using a variety of novel approaches, including 16S rDNA, metagenomics, and metatransciptome sequencing, as well as in vitro cell modeling. These approaches will provide significant insight into the role microbes play in the progression of OSCC.


Differentiated immune cells, such as neutrophils, release their DNA against microbial attacks.
Image from: Freire Lab.


The goal is to find novel biomarkers to aid in prevention, diagnostics, and therapeutics of OSCC. Such host-pathogen associations, particularly at an early stage of cancer development, will be groundbreaking in improving diagnostic approaches and revealing novel therapeutic biomarker targets, and therapeutics.

Want More Information?

Contact the Development Office at development@jcvi.org.


The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) did not provide any goods or services to you in whole or in partial consideration for the aforementioned contribution. The full amount of your contribution is tax deductible subject to applicable laws and IRS regulations. JCVI is a 501(c)3 with the federal tax identification number 52-1842938. This acknowledgement is provided pursuant to section 170(f)(8) of the Internal Revenue Code.