Genetic predisposition to childhood leukaemia is frequent (>1-5%), but less than 1% of genetic carriers will actually develop the disease.
Infectious stimuli are believed to play a major role in the aetiology of the most common types of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, but the critical determinants leading to oncogenesis in children are unknown.
We are trying to understand the mechanism by which natural exposure to common infections triggers the disease, with the ultimate goal of identifying potential
As there is clear crosstalk between commensal bacteria and the immune system, the gut microbiome may serve as an integration hub for environmental signals such as exposure to infections, modulating the risk of developing B-cell acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL).
In a mouse model of human B-precursor ALL, we have demonstrated that the microbiome profile provides a biomarker that might be used to identify predisposed carriers at risk to develop leukaemia.
Furthermore, we have shown that gut microbiome deprivation via antibiotic treatment early in life is a risk factor for leukaemia development.
We anticipate that the risk of developing leukaemia may be reduced by modulating the gut microbiome early in life.