Good poop, bad cancer: turning the tables on skin cancer with a dose of gut bacteria

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Science is amazing! A ground-breaking medical trial has just found that fecal transplants – yep, you read that right, transplants of poop – could help make cancer treatment more effective.

This is big news in the fight against advanced melanoma, a really nasty type of skin cancer.

The Magic of Immunotherapy

Here’s a bit of background: doctors sometimes use drugs called immunotherapies to fight cancer. These drugs give your immune system a super boost so it can attack and kill the cancer cells.

It’s a great approach, but there’s a catch. These drugs only work for about half the patients with melanoma. That’s where our friendly gut bacteria come into play.

Your Gut’s Got Your Back

We’ve all got trillions of microscopic bugs living inside us, especially in our gut. Don’t freak out, they’re good for us! This is our microbiome, and it plays a big part in keeping us healthy.

There’s a growing idea in science that the microbiome might also help cancer treatments work better.

From Healthy Donors to Patients: The Journey of Poop Pills

Dr. John Lenehan, a medical oncologist and scientist, led a study to see if fecal transplants could help melanoma patients respond better to immunotherapy.

Sounds weird, but here’s how it works: doctors collect stool from a healthy person, clean it up in a lab, put it into capsules, and then give it to the patient.

The aim is to transfer the healthy bacteria from the donor to the patient’s gut.

The Power of Poop in Fighting Melanoma

The study involved 20 patients with melanoma. They each took about 40 poop pills in one go, a week before starting their immunotherapy.

The researchers found that combining the poop pills with the immunotherapy was safe. Most importantly, 65 percent of the patients who kept the donor’s gut bacteria responded well to the treatment.

Unfortunately, some patients had to stop treatment due to side effects.

The Future Looks Bright…and a Bit Poopy

The results have excited doctors and researchers. Dr. Bertrand Routy, an oncologist and director of a Microbiome Center, believes the microbiome might be a game-changer for melanoma treatment.

This study makes Canada a leader in this kind of research, showing that it’s possible to boost patients’ response to immunotherapy with poop transplants.

A Pill to Kill Cancer

What’s really unique about this study is the way they did the fecal transplants. The team used a method developed by Dr. Michael Silverman, involving capsules, which are a lot easier for patients to take.

This isn’t the first time Dr. Silverman has used this method. He’s been doing fecal transplants for 20 years, mainly for treating C. difficile infections, a really nasty gut bug.

His poop pills have a high success rate, and the good bacteria usually survive the journey to the patient’s gut.

Onwards to Bigger Things

Encouraged by these positive results, the team has already kicked off a larger trial.

They’re also looking into whether poop transplants could help with other types of cancer and even other diseases like HIV and rheumatoid arthritis.

This is just the start of a whole new chapter in the fight against cancer. And it’s all thanks to our friendly gut bacteria – and some very brave and pioneering doctors. Who knew poop could be so powerful?

If you care about skin health, please read studies about eating fish linked to a higher risk of skin cancer, and Vitamin B3 could help prevent skin cancers.

If you care about skin cancer, please read studies that a low-carb diet could increase overall cancer risk, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduce cancer death.

The study was published in Nature Medicine. Follow us on Twitter for more articles about this topic.

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