Gut Microbes May Contribute to Immunotherapy Response

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Independent research teams have identified gut microbial community features that appear to coincide with more favorable responses to checkpoint blockade immunotherapy targeting PD-1.

For one of the two studies, both published online today in Science, a team from France, the US, and Sweden looked for potential ties between gut microbiome features and anti-PD-1 immune checkpoint blockade response in 100 individuals with renal cell carcinoma or non-small cell lung cancer.

The work followed from the team’s preliminary experiments suggesting antibiotic treatment curbed anti-PD-1 and/or anti-CTLA-4 treatment effectiveness in mouse models of sarcoma and melanoma. Likewise, checkpoint blockade response patterns for 249 individuals with lung, kidney, or urothelial cancers pointed to diminished response and poorer survival outcomes for the 69 patients with recent antibiotic prescriptions.

When they used quantitative metagenomic shotgun sequencing to directly measure gut microbes at diagnosis and over the course of treatment in 60 individuals with non-small cell lung cancer and 40 renal cell carcinoma patients, the researchers saw a more robust response to anti-PD-1 treatment in those with enhanced microbial species richness.

That team highlighted one species in particular — Akkermansia muciniphila — that was significantly more common in lung or kidney cancer patients

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