Fiber Good for Immunotherapy on Melanoma Patients?

In a large international research collaboration with University of Texas, National Institutes of Health and Oregon State University has been recently published in Science, explains how melanoma patients immune system responds to treatment better when their diet is rich in fiber.

Throughout the United States, melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer with roughly 106,000 new melanoma cases in 2021, and 7,000 patients dying from melanoma this year according to the American Cancer Society. With melanoma being the fifth-most common form of cancer, researchers have been in pursuit of how to make new therapeutic techniques more effective.

This study specifically focused on a therapeutic technique called immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) which is a treatment for cancer as a whole including melanoma. In short the ICB covers a range of therapies that work by releasing a natural brake on your immune system so the T-cells can recognize and attack tumors. Here is a video on how Immunotherapy and ICB’s work:

The study consisted of hundreds of melanoma patients where Andrey Morgun and other researchers analyzed the gut microbiomes, disease features, dietary habits, and probiotics. The results of the study found that patients with melanoma who had a greater intake of fiber-rich foods when immunotherapy treatment began, went longer without cancer growth than those with a insufficient dietary fiber intake. Among the 128 patients whose dietary fiber intake was known, those who consumed at least 20 grams of dietary fiber lived longer without their cancer progressing. For every 5-gram increase in daily dietary fiber intake corresponded to a 30% lower risk of progression of the disease.

“And though the findings suggest that some commercially available probiotics may be harmful for patients on ICB, more research is needed to determine which probiotics could actually be beneficial,” Morgun said.

Although more research is needed to determine what type of diet change is needed and more studies come through regarding ICB therapy and improving patient outcomes, it is a step in the right direction as we take another step in the direction of beating cancer.

Leading the study were Jennifer Wargo, Lorenzo Cohen and Carrie Daniel of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Giorgio Trinchieri of the National Institutes of Health. Approximately 80 scientists took part in the research.