A team of Canadian researchers is among the first in the world to test whether fecal transplants could help treat the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma.
Twenty patients with advanced stage disease are part of the phase one study out of the Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ont. Participants have been prescribed pills filled with purified fecal bacteria, and they will then undergo immunotherapy in hopes of stimulating their bodies to kill cancer.
The hope is that transplanting healthy gut bacteria to cancer patients will boost their immune systems and make the immunotherapy drugs more effective. In turn, their bodies will be primed to destroy cancer cells.
The study is still in its early stages, but scientists have already seen promising signs the immune cells are revving up in the first two patients.
“We are getting some signs that the immune system is responding to these transplants,” said Dr. Michael Silverman, an associate scientist with the hospital. “We’re excited but we don’t want to give off the impression that this is a proven phenomenon yet, because it’s too early.”
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