Conference Report

Highlights from the Inaugural International Cancer Microbiome Consortium Meeting (ICMC), 5–6 September 2017, London, UK

20 Dec 2017
Alasdair J Scott, Claire A Merrifield, James L Alexander, Julian R Marchesi, James M Kinross

The International Cancer Microbiome Consortium (ICMC) is a recently launched collaborative between academics and academic-clinicians that aims to promote microbiome research within the field of oncology, establish expert consensus and deliver education for academics and clinicians. The inaugural two-day meeting was held at the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM), London, UK, 5–6 September 2017. Microbiome and cancer experts from around the world first delivered a series of talks during an educational day and then sat for a day of roundtable discussion to debate key topics in microbiome-cancer research.

Talks delivered during the educational day covered a broad range of microbiome-related topics. The potential role of the microbiome in the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer was discussed and debated in detail with experts highlighting the latest data in animal models and humans and addressing the question of causation versus association. The impact of the microbiota on other cancers—such as lung and urogenital tract—was also discussed. The microbiome represents a novel target for therapeutic manipulation in cancer and a number of talks explored how this might be realised through diet, faecal microbiota transplant and chemotherapeutics.

On the second day, experts debated pre-agreed topics with the aim of producing a consensus statement with a focus on the current state of our knowledge and key gaps for further development. The panel debated the notion of a ‘healthy’ microbiome and, in turn, the concept of dysbiosis in cancer. The mechanisms of microbiota-induced carcinogenesis were discussed in detail and our current conceptual models were assessed. Experts also considered co-factors in microbiome-induced carcinogenesis to conclude that the tripartite ‘interactome’ between genetically vulnerable host, environment and the microbiome is central to our current understanding. To conclude, the roundtable discussed how the microbiome may be exploited for therapeutic benefit in cancer and the safety implications of performing such research
in oncology patients.

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