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The cure from within? a review of the microbiome and diet in melanoma.


Therapy for cutaneous melanoma, the deadliest of the skin cancers, is inextricably linked to the immune system. Once thought impossible, cures for metastatic melanoma with immune checkpoint inhibitors have been developed within the last decade and now occur regularly in the clinic. Unfortunately, half of tumors do not respond to checkpoint inhibitors and efforts to further exploit the immune system are needed. Tantalizing associations with immune health and gut microbiome composition suggest we can improve the success rate of immunotherapy. The gut contains over half of the immune cells in our bodies and increasingly, evidence is linking the immune system within our gut to melanoma development and treatment. In this review, we discuss the importance the skin and gut microbiome may play in the development of melanoma. We examine the differences in the microbial populations which inhabit the gut of those who develop melanoma and subsequently respond to immunotherapeutics. We discuss the role of dietary intake on the development and treatment of melanoma. And finally, we review the landscape of published and registered clinical trials therapeutically targeting the microbiome in melanoma through dietary supplements, fecal microbiota transplant, and microbial supplementation.

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