Background: Monoclonal antibodies (mAb) targeting the programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) receptor provide durable long-term benefit in a subset of patients (pts) with advanced melanoma with response rates of 35-42% and 4-year progression-free survival (PFS) rate of 27%. Separately, the composition of the gut microbiota has been shown to correlate with anti-PD-1 efficacy in human cancer pts with melanoma, renal cell cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) although the precise organisms differ considerably across various studies. In preclinical models, responder-derived fecal microbiome and microbiome consortia produce anti-tumor responses. The effect of microbiome modulation in pts with anti-PD-1 refractory melanoma has not been evaluated. Methods: To evaluate whether primary resistance to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy could be overcome by intestinal microbiome modulation, we designed and conducted a phase II study (NCT03341143). We enrolled pts with primary refractory metastatic melanoma with best response of short-term stable disease (≤6 months) or progressive disease (PD) to prior anti-PD-1 based immunotherapy. Pts received single-administration of responder-derived fecal microbiota transplantation (R-FMT) together with pembrolizumab. Candidate donors were pts with advanced melanoma treated with anti-PD-1 immunotherapy with durable partial or complete response (PR, CR). Pembrolizumab was continued till intolerable toxicity or disease progression. Safety and clinical activity (based on RECIST v1.1) were main objectives; while progression-free survival (PFS) was a key secondary endpoint. Results: As of December 1, 2020, 16 pts with primary refractory melanoma were enrolled, of whom 15 were evaluable. LDH was elevated in 14/15 pts; and the median number of prior therapies was 2. Recipient pts were seromatched to receive a single R-FMT from one of eight candidate donors (5 CR; 3 PR; median PFS 58 months, range 43-70). R-FMT was administered via colonoscopy after bowel preparation with no use of antibiotics. Pembrolizumab was administered IV per label. R-FMT/pembrolizumab was well-tolerated, with no unusual toxicity signals. R-FMT induced rapid and durable microbiota perturbation in most pts; while 6 of 15 evaluable pts had evidence of clinical benefit. Response to R-FMT/pembrolizumab was associated with an increased abundance of taxa previously shown to be associated with response to anti-PD-1, increased CD8+ T cell activation, and decreased frequency of IL-8 expressing myeloid cells. Responders had distinct proteomic and metabolomic signatures, and transkingdom network analyses confirmed that the gut microbiome regulated these changes. Conclusions: In pts with anti-PD-1 primary refractory melanoma, R-FMT/pembrolizumab changed the gut microbiome and reprogrammed the tumor microenvironment to overcome resistance to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy. Response was associated with CD8 T cell induction and reduction of IL-8 expressing myeloid cells.

Citation Format: Diwakar Davar, Amiran Dzutsev, John A. McCulloch, Richard R. Rodrigues, Joe-Marc Chauvin, Robert M. Morrison, Richelle N. Deblasio, Carmine Menna, Quanquan Ding, Ornella Pagliano, Bochra Zidi, Shuowen Zhang, Jonathan H. Badger, Marie Vetizou, Alicia M. Cole, Miriam R. Fernandes, Stephanie Prescott, Raquel G. Costa, Ascharya K. Balaji, Andrey Morgun, Ivan Vujkovic-Cvijin, Hong Wang, Amir A. Borhani, Marc B. Schwartz, Howard M. Dubner, Scarlett J. Ernst, Amy Rose, Yana G. Najjar, Yasmine Belkaid, John M. Kirkwood, Giorgio Trinchieri, Hassane M. Zarour. Efficacy of Responder-derived Fecal Microbiota Transplant (R-FMT) and Pembrolizumab in Anti-PD-1 Refractory Patients with Advanced Melanoma [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021; 2021 Apr 10-15 and May 17-21. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2021;81(13_Suppl):Abstract nr LB062.