Host-Microbiome Interactions (Kaakoush)

About us

Our lab has a strong interest in microbial carcinogenesis, in particular, the role the human microbiome plays in upper gastrointestinal cancers. We employ novel sequencing technologies to identify host-microbiome signatures that may play a role in disease, then investigate these signatures using in vitro and in vivo microbial pathogenesis studies.

Current project

Oesophageal microbiome in the oesophageal adenocarcinoma cascade

Oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OAC) is one of the two main histological types of oesophageal cancer. The incidence of OAC has substantially increased since the 1970s, and this rise represents a real increase in disease burden unrelated to over-diagnosis or reclassification. OAC is the final stage of a cascade of events that begin with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), a condition where the oesophagus is chronically exposed to acid, bile, and other stomach contents. This results in inflammation and injury of the squamous oesophageal epithelium and an increased risk for developing Barrett’s oesophagus, a premalignant condition that dramatically increases the risk of developing OAC. The OAC cascade is multifactorial, developing from a complex interplay of host anthropomorphic factors, host genetic and epigenetic factors, host immune response, as well as environmental factors. More recently, the oesophageal microbiome has been proposed as an aetiological agent that drives inflammation in the early stages of the cascade (Figure).

Recent publications

Signatures within the esophageal microbiome are associated with host genetics, age, and disease (read more)

The oesophageal microbiome: an unexplored link in obesity-associated oesophageal adenocarcinoma (read more)

Is Campylobacter to esophageal adenocarcinoma as Helicobacter is to gastric adenocarcinoma? (read more)