Bacteria-host interactions, bacterial toxins, helicobacter pylori, and gastric cancer
Persistent bacterial infections, Immune evasion, gastric cancer, Helicobacter pylori, Bacterial toxins
Research projects in the Cover laboratory are focused on bacterial infections, bacteria-host interactions, and the role of microbes in development of cancer. We are particularly interested in the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role as a causative agent of stomach cancer. H. pylori is the only bacterial species that commonly causes cancer in humans, and has been designated as a Class I carcinogen by the World Health Organization. H. pylori colonizes the stomach in about half of the global population, and stomach cancer is the third leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide.
One of our main goals is to elucidate molecular mechanisms by which H. pylori infection can lead to stomach cancer. Another main goal is to understand why some H. pylori-infected individuals develop stomach cancer, whereas most others remain asymptomatic or derive health benefits.
Examples of projects currently underway in the lab include investigation of (i) secreted H. pylori toxins (VacA and CagA), (ii) an H. pylori type IV secretion system that delivers CagA into gastric epithelial cells, (iii) H. pylori-induced alterations in host cells and animal models, and (iv) dietary composition as a determinant of gastric cancer risk.