High Fiber Diet Useful In Treatment Of Severe Melanoma Cancer

A fiber-rich diet has proven to be helpful for melanoma patients getting therapy in their fight against cancer. With the increased presence of fiber in their diet, it becomes much easier for the immune system to kill cancer cells during the course of the treatment. These findings are a result of a large, international research collaboration between the Oregon State University College of Pharmacy, University of Texas and the National Institutes of Health.

The study findings are expected to be an encouraging development in the treatment of a wide variety of cancers, especially melanoma, which is said to be the most severe form of skin cancer.

On a national basis, melanoma is believed to be the fifth-most commonly occurring cancer. It is estimated that around 100,000 new melanoma cases will be detected in the U.S in 2022, and out of these nearly 7,000 are expected to die, as per the American Cancer Society.

The new study focuses on a therapeutic technique called immune checkpoint blockade or ICB, which has improved the treatment process of not just melanoma, but cancer in general.

The ICB therapy depends on inhibitor drugs, which block proteins called checkpoints that are produced by certain immune system cells and also by certain cancer cells.
These checkpoints are such that they help prevent immune responses from becoming too strong, but sometimes this means keeping T cells from killing cancer cells. Thus, when the checkpoints are blocked, T cells can kill the cancer cells.

Commenting on the findings, researchers said, ""ICB has been a game-changer in cancer therapy, and the influence of the gut microbiome on therapeutic response has been demonstrated in numerous studies, in preclinical models and also in research involving human cohorts. A person's microbiome is shaped by a wide range of environmental factors including food and medications, while human genetics accounts for a much smaller proportion of the microbiome variation from person to person."

The researchers studied many melanoma patients, looking at their gut microbiomes, dietary habits, use of probiotics, disease features and treatment outcomes. Most of the patients were being treated via ICB, typically a type known as anti-programmed cell death protein therapy or-PD-1.
A similar study involving mice implanted with tumors was also part of the research.
In the human, observational cohort portion of the study, higher dietary fiber intake was associated with disease non-progression among patients on ICB; the most effective benefits were found in patients with strong dietary fiber intake and no probiotic use.
The mouse model generated similar results. Thus, researchers said that the results in the mice support the idea that anti-tumor immunity is strongest with a high-fiber diet and no probiotics.

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