Randomized Placebo-Controlled, Biomarker-Stratified Phase Ib Microbiome Modulation in Melanoma: Impact of Antibiotic Preconditioning on Microbiome and Immunity.

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Cancer Discov


oregon; portland


UNLABELLED: Gut-microbiota modulation shows promise in improving immune-checkpoint blockade (ICB) response; however, precision biomarker-driven, placebo-controlled trials are lacking. We performed a multicenter, randomized placebo-controlled, biomarker-stratified phase I trial in patients with ICB-naïve metastatic melanoma using SER-401, an orally delivered Firmicutes-enriched spore formulation. Fecal microbiota signatures were characterized at baseline; patients were stratified by high versus low Ruminococcaceae abundance prior to randomization to the SER-401 arm (oral vancomycin-preconditioning/SER-401 alone/nivolumab + SER-401), versus the placebo arm [placebo antibiotic/placebo microbiome modulation (PMM)/nivolumab + PMM (NCT03817125)]. Analysis of 14 accrued patients demonstrated that treatment with SER-401 + nivolumab was safe, with an objective response rate of 25% in the SER-401 arm and 67% in the placebo arm (though the study was under-powered related to poor accrual during the COVID-19 pandemic). Translational analyses demonstrated that vancomycin preconditioning was associated with the disruption of the gut microbiota and impaired immunity, with incomplete recovery at ICB administration (particularly in patients with high baseline Ruminococcaceae). These results have important implications for future microbiome modulation trials.

SIGNIFICANCE: This first-of-its-kind, placebo-controlled, randomized biomarker-driven microbiome modulation trial demonstrated that vancomycin + SER-401 and anti-PD-1 are safe in melanoma patients. Although limited by poor accrual during the pandemic, important insights were gained via translational analyses, suggesting that antibiotic preconditioning and interventional drug dosing regimens should be carefully considered when designing such trials.

Clinical Institute


Clinical Institute

Digestive Health






Pathology & Laboratory Medicine