Could Swallowing Fecal Pills Improve Skin Cancer Therapy?

Fecal microbiota transplants (FMT) from healthy donors are safe and show promise in improving response to immunotherapy in patients with advanced melanoma. According to a multi-center study from Lawson Health Research Institute, the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), and the Jewish General Hospital (JGH).

Fecal Pills For Cancer Therapy 

A patient had to take between 30 and 40 pills of frozen human excrement from healthy donors. The pills were checked for pathogens to get that healthy gut flora into them. According to scientists these pills have no taste or smell. However, getting past the notion that it might be somewhat repulsive is the major factor coming in the way of production.

“The connection between the microbiome, the immune system, and cancer treatment is a growing field in science,” explains Dr. Saman Maleki, a scientist at Lawson and London Regional Cancer Program who served as the senior author of the study. “This study aimed to harness microbes to improve outcomes for patients with melanoma.”

“In this study, we aimed to improve melanoma patients’ response to immunotherapy by improving the health of their microbiome through fecal transplants.” Said Dr. John Lenehan, Medical Oncologist at London Health Sciences Center.

Image Source: SciQuest

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“These exciting results add to a rapidly growing list of publications suggesting that targeting the microbiome may provide a major advance in the use of immunotherapy for our patients with cancer,” said Dr. Wilson H. Miller Jr. professor in the Departments of Medicine and Oncology at McGill University, in a press.

Trial Details 

The majority of patients who had immunotherapy and fecal transplants saw no negative side effects. Five patients did have uncomfortable episodes, and they stopped receiving treatment. 65 % of subjects who still displayed signs of retaining the healthy microbiota of the donors responded to immunotherapy.

Image source: the guardian

The trial differs from past fecal transplant studies. Since it is the first to administer samples to cancer patients in the form of capsules. The authors claim that the capsules have contributed to their success in raising immunotherapy response rates.

Another phase 2 experiment is in progress. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of fecal transplants in treating various diseases, such as pancreatic cancer and lung cancer, will be examined in this study. Additionally, evaluating fecal transplants for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and HIV is being discussed.

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