Dr. Bertrand Routy, a research member at the Montreal Cancer Institute and a hematologist-oncologist at CHUM, is awarded the 2023 Excellence Award in the category of Scientific Contribution of the Year for his work published in Nature Medicine.

In his study entitled “Fecal microbiota transplantation plus anti-PD-1 immunotherapy in advanced melanoma: a phase 1 trial,” the scientist highlights the positive effects of combining fecal microbiota transplantation with cancer immunotherapy.

This marks the first investigation into fecal microbiota transplantation in oncology in Canada. This phase 1 clinical trial, conducted with the participation of 20 patients with stage 4 melanoma, demonstrated a 20% improvement in the efficacy of melanoma treatment through the combination of fecal transplantation with anti-PD1 immunotherapy.

This groundbreaking study provides the first tangible evidence of the ability to influence the response to immunotherapy by acting on the microbiota. Patients responding positively to the treatment exhibited beneficial changes in the composition of their microbiomes.

This long-term research project is based on the findings of Dr. Routy and his colleagues at the Microbiota Center of CHUM, including Meriem Messaoudene, Dr. Arielle Elkrief, Wiam Belkaid, Julie Malo, and Dr. Rahima Jamal. Their innovative work has stimulated clinical and fundamental research in oncology on a national scale.

Over the past five years, their investigations have unveiled the unexpected role of the microbiome in cancer patients treated with immunotherapy, leading to changes in medical practices and opening up new therapeutic perspectives.

In collaboration with the Canadian Cancer Trial Group, this same team will soon initiate the first pan-Canadian randomized study, involving 128 melanoma patients treated with immunotherapy.