Infectious Diseases Service Chief Eric Pamer (left) with Joao Xavier, a computational biologist who collaborates with Dr. Pamer on laboratory research aimed at preventing and reducing infections caused by antibiotic resistance.
The Infectious Diseases Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering focuses on the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases that can occur in people undergoing treatment for cancer. This service performs clinical and laboratory-based research with the goal of reducing and ameliorating infectious complications in our patient population.
Cancer treatment is rapidly evolving from classical chemotherapeutic and surgical therapies toward precise molecular and immune modulatory treatments that target oncogenes and antigens in a patient’s tumor. The swift progress of the field is changing the spectrum of infections and inflammatory disorders that infectious disease physicians encounter and manage.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern around the world. In response to this threat, MSK’s Infectious Diseases (ID) Service has established a clinical and laboratory research program, together with our Lucille Castori Center for Microbes, Inflammation, and Cancer, to investigate the role of the microbiome in preventing or reducing the rate of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Recent studies by MSK investigators, spearheaded by ID faculty members and fellows, have identified commensal bacterial species that confer resistance to infections caused by Clostridium difficile.
Close collaborations between the ID Service and the Bone Marrow Transplant, Leukemia, and Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Services at MSK have demonstrated the impact that a patient’s microbiome can have on the outcome of cancer treatment. Clinical trials of microbiome transplants to improve cancer treatment outcomes and reduce infectious complications are under way.
While infectious diseases are a potential problem for all patients, one of the most concerning populations at risk of infection remains patients with compromised immunity due to cancer and its therapy.