Gut Bugs and Cancer Treatment


Can your gut bacteria impact on how you respond to cancer treatment? Elizabeth Tracey reports

For people with advanced melanoma who were being treated with a class of targeted therapies known as checkpoint inhibitors, response to therapy was associated with which types of bacteria they had in their intestine, a new study shows. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, explains.

Nelson: The microbiota, these are the bacteria that are residents of the intestine. That ecosystem, which bacteria are there in certain individuals versus others, makes a difference for people with advanced melanoma who are treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors, like ipilimumab, nivolumab, it makes a difference to how well they respond. When they are looking at 77 or so folks with advanced melanoma, who got a combination of ipilimumab and nivolumab or one of the other immune checkpoint inhibitors, turns out almost half of them had very significant immune related adverse events.  :34

Nelson says many researchers are looking at ways to modify gut bacteria to help. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.