Israeli Scientists: Fecal Matter Can Treat Melanoma

Sheba Medical Center doctors perform successful stool transplant.

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Cancer patients with Melanoma may have had their lives saved by doctors at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center simply by consuming fecal microbiota. Three terminally ill patients were treated and all improved with tumors shrunken by the treatment. One patient even saw his tumor disappear completely.

The cancer patients were given pills filled with fecal microbiota taken from people’s stool. This is known as a fecal microbiota transplant or a stool transplant. The stool has Microbiota, a type of microscopic organism which lives in our bodies and helps the immune system. This is also known as the gut microbiome.

Believe it or not, at every moment of the day your body is host to millions of microorganisms like bacteria. But these are the good kind of bacteria which actually help your body’s digestion of food and fight off the bad kinds of microorganisms.

The new study from Sheba Medical Center was published in Science, a medical journal.

It shows that gut microbiome can influence the response of tumors to a type of immunotherapy in pre-clinical mouse models and observational patient cohorts. But such use of gut microbiota in cancer patients was not formally tested in formal clinical trials.

But the researchers did a clinical trial to assess the safety and feasibility of fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) and re-induction of anti-PD-1 immunotherapy in ten patients with anti-PD-1-refractory metastatic melanoma. They observed clinical responses in three patients, including two partial responses and one complete response.

The medical researchers saw favorable changes in immune cell infiltrates and gene expression profiles in both the gut lamina propria and the tumor microenvironment. They state that these early findings have important implications for modulating the gut microbiota in cancer treatment.

So we do not yet have a cure for melanoma or a proven treatment. But these results do seem promising.

However, the FDA did recently warn about the potential risk of serious or life-threatening infections with the use of fecal microbiota for transplantation

“FDA is informing patients and healthcare providers of the potential risk of transmission of pathogenic bacteria by FMT products and the resultant serious adverse reactions that may occur,” the agency said. “Patients considering FMT for the treatment of C. difficile infection should speak to their health care provider to understand the associated risks.”

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