ARTICLE ABSTRACTWhile immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) have revolutionized the treatment of cancer by producing durable antitumor responses, only 10%–30% of treated patients respond and the ability to predict clinical benefit remains elusive. Several studies, small in size and using variable analytic methods, suggest the gut microbiome may be a novel, modifiable biomarker for tumor response rates, but the specific bacteria or bacterial communities putatively impacting ICI responses have been inconsistent across the studied populations.
We have reanalyzed the available raw 16S rRNA amplicon and metagenomic sequencing data across five recently published ICI studies (n = 303 unique patients) using a uniform computational approach.
Herein, we identify novel bacterial signals associated with clinical responders (R) or nonresponders (NR) and develop an integrated microbiome prediction index. Unexpectedly, the NR-associated integrated index shows the strongest and most consistent signal using a random effects model and in a sensitivity and specificity analysis (P < 0.01). We subsequently tested the integrated index using validation cohorts across three distinct and diverse cancers (n = 105).
Our analysis highlights the development of biomarkers for nonresponse, rather than response, in predicting ICI outcomes and suggests a new approach to identify patients who would benefit from microbiome-based interventions to improve response rates.