Hofland will research the association between the gut microbiome and symptoms of carcinoid syndrome by mapping the gut microbiome of NET patients with and without carcinoid syndrome and comparing them to healthy individuals.
What question will the researchers try to answer?
What is the interaction of gut bacteria with NET cells and how might this regulatory control affect a tumor’s hormonal secretions that contribute to tumor behavior and hormonal complaints in patients?
Why is this important?
Despite the discovery of links between the microbiome and colorectal and pancreatic cancers, there has been no investigation of this interaction in patients with NETs. Consequently, there is an unmet medical need to improve management options for patients with carcinoid syndrome.
What will researchers do?
Researchers will describe the microbiome in patients with carcinoid syndrome for the first time through DNA analysis of stool samples of 100 patients with metastatic NETs. The microbiome of patients with carcinoid syndrome will be compared to that of patients without carcinoid syndrome and of healthy controls. Finally, the presence of specific bacterial products in feces of patients will be analyzed in order to discover their role in carcinoid syndrome.
How might this improve the treatment of NETs?
By identifying specific bacteria and bacterial products that are associated with patient symptoms within the context of carcinoid syndrome, this project strives to create a novel clinically relevant research area for neuroendocrine tumors.
What is the next step?
Results of this pilot can serve to instigate further research in preclinical models to detect the molecular mechanism of action. Future outcomes could include a clinical trial with targeted disruption of the microbiome-neuroendocrine tumor interaction with the ultimate goal of alleviating carcinoid syndrome symptoms in patients.