Mesothelioma and Its Immunotherapy Advances
Mesothelioma treatment plans based on immunotherapy are giving new hope to mesothelioma patients worldwide. Some recent clinical trials suggest that immunotherapy can be more effective and provide better results when compared with standard mesothelioma chemotherapy treatment plans.
Of course, immunotherapy is an excellent option for mesothelioma patients, but patients will need to have a healthy immune system. The healthier a patient’s immune system is, the higher their chances of having a positive response from immunotherapy. Mesothelioma alternative treatments are often looked upon by patients who may not be healthy enough to undergo normal mesothelioma chemotherapy options.
Ongoing investigations regarding immunotherapy treatment also mention the existence of the microbiome, which are communities of microbes that live within our bodies. Researchers suggest that these microbiomes can affect the behavior and results of immunotherapy treatments.
What is a microbiome?
The trillions of microorganisms that inhabit our bodies, whether they are bacteria, fungi, viruses, and others, form what experts know as microbiomes, being these an important part of our physiological processes.
The general population has the idea that all these microorganisms are harmful to our health. While in some cases it is true, as microorganisms have the ability to create various harmful medical conditions and illnesses, but not all microbes are bad for our health.
Microbes reside inside and outside of our bodies and we do not even notice them, in fact, we could not live without them. These microbiomes play a major role in maintaining our well-being. We have microorganisms living in every corner of our bodies, taking part in the metabolism and absorption of certain nutrients, structure cleaning, defense against harmful microbes, among other functions.
These microbiomes are also part of our intestines, being part of a critical role in the development of our immune system. Some experts even consider the gut microbiome as part of the mentioned system because studies revealed that without a healthy number of intestine microbes, our immunity does not work well.
Since a few years, the medical and scientific community has become more interested in studying microbiomes and how they affect cancer treatment, even immunotherapy.
Microbiome and Immunotherapy researches
Most of the studies regarding this topic involved laboratory mice and rats, but all point to the fact that having a rich variety of intestine microbes is a very important factor for immunotherapy to develops well.
A study made in the year 2017 in the Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, US, analyzed the relation of the microbiome with immunotherapy in patients with melanoma, finding similar results to the above mentioned. The researchers of this study included 112 patients with advanced melanoma, examining their intestinal microbiome. All the patients received anti-PD-1 therapy as the immunotherapy plan.
PD-1, meaning programmed cell death-1, is a protein that cancer cells create to prevent the hosts’ immune system from killing them. Ongoing mesothelioma clinical trials are focusing on learning how to block this protein, which allows the immune system to destroy cancer cells without any inhibition or damaging healthy cells.
Regarding the previous study, patients with more variety in the intestinal microbiome of their stomach responded better to the immunotherapy plan. Their tumors either decreased in size, disappeared, or stabilized for at least 6 months. Meanwhile, the patients with less variety in their microbiome experienced tumor growth or stabilization while receiving the same immunotherapy plan. Even with all of these treatments, there is still no mesothelioma cure.
Typically, depending on the variety and health of the microorganisms in a patients intestines, the better they will respond to immunotherapy treatment.
Mesothelioma Patients and their Microbiome benefits
The investigations currently studying anti-PD-1 immunotherapies applied in mesothelioma patients include Keytruda, Opdivo, and Yervoy.
These drugs, with Keytruda being mainly studied in 6 countries, are the same types applied in melanoma patients. While the studies with melanoma patients do not prove cause and effect, it does point out the fact that people with more variety in the gut microbiome could respond better to immunotherapy treatment plans. Patients diagnosed with stage 4 mesothelioma may be more interested in complete healing treatments for mesothelioma or mesothelioma alternative treatments.
How to maintain a varied and healthy gut microbiome
Promoting a diverse intestinal microbiome mostly depends on having a good diet and making healthy lifestyle choices. Popular diets that mesothelioma patients should avoid can be read about in our blog here. Follow these few tips to produce a varied and healthy gut microbiome:
- Fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans, peas, and whole grains are microbiome-friendly foods.
- Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut will make a base for the microorganisms to grow and develop.
- Increase your high-fiber foods intake by eating oatmeal, broccoli, bananas, apples, lentils, and other edible plants.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners.
- Get enough sleep, at least 7 to 8 hours to reduce the amount of stress and your intestinal activity. This way, the microbes will have the chance to do their normal functions.
- Moving your body by doing regular physical activity is great for your intestines and its microbiome.
- Keep your weight according to your physical characteristics.
- Take antibiotics only when needed due to its capacity to sweep all the intestinal microbiome.
These tips could not be appropriate for some mesothelioma cases. So, before following any of them, seek the opinion and recommendations of your doctor or dietitian to resolve all your questions.