Nivolumab plus ipilimumab with or without live bacterial supplementation in metastatic renal cell carcinoma: a randomized phase 1 trial

Nat Med. 2022 Apr;28(4):704-712. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01694-6. Epub 2022 Feb 28.


Previous studies have suggested that the gut microbiome influences the response to checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs) in patients with cancer. CBM588 is a bifidogenic live bacterial product that we postulated could augment CPI response through modulation of the gut microbiome. In this open-label, single-center study (NCT03829111), 30 treatment-naive patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma with clear cell and/or sarcomatoid histology and intermediate- or poor-risk disease were randomized 2:1 to receive nivolumab and ipilimumab with or without daily oral CBM588, respectively. Stool metagenomic sequencing was performed at multiple timepoints. The primary endpoint to compare the relative abundance of Bifidobacterium spp. at baseline and at 12 weeks was not met, and no significant differences in Bifidobacterium spp. or Shannon index associated with the addition of CBM588 to nivolumab-ipilimumab were detected. Secondary endpoints included response rate, progression-free survival (PFS) and toxicity. PFS was significantly longer in patients receiving nivolumab-ipilimumab with CBM588 than without (12.7 months versus 2.5 months, hazard ratio 0.15, 95% confidence interval 0.05-0.47, P = 0.001). Although not statistically significant, the response rate was also higher in patients receiving CBM588 (58% versus 20%, P = 0.06). No significant difference in toxicity was observed between the study arms. The data suggest that CBM588 appears to enhance the clinical outcome in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma treated with nivolumab-ipilimumab. Larger studies are warranted to confirm this clinical observation and elucidate the mechanism of action and the effects on microbiome and immune compartments.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols* / adverse effects
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / pathology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ipilimumab / therapeutic use
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Male
  • Nivolumab / therapeutic use


  • Ipilimumab
  • Nivolumab

Associated data