Gut Bugs and Cancer Treatment

August 9, 2021


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.

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