Combination of drugs produces dramatic tumor responses in advanced melanoma patients

June 2, 2013

The combination of the immunotherapy drug ipilimumab and the investigational antibody drug nivolumab led to long-lasting tumor shrinkage in more than half of patients with metastatic melanoma, according to results from a Phase I trial simultaneously published online on Sunday, June 2, in The New England Journal of Medicine and presented by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center researchers at the 49th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Several patients experienced of more than 80 percent within 12 weeks of receiving the drugs, and the shrinkage was long lasting. Further, 40 percent of patients who received varying concurrent dosages had an objective response—meaning at least a 50 percent reduction in . Side effects from the drug combination were manageable and often reversible.

"We are very excited about the response rates these patients have experienced. This kind of deep and rapid has never been seen in melanoma using immunotherapy, and suggests that these two drugs could be better used in combination than alone," said Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD. Dr. Wolchok, a medical oncologist at the Ludwig Center for at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, is lead author on The New England Journal of Medicine paper and also presented the findings at ASCO.

Dr. Wolchok and his team combined ipilimumab and nivolumab because promising results in preclinical testing suggested the drugs impact the immune system in a complementary way. By blocking the inhibitory marker CTLA-4, ipilimumab, which the FDA approved for advanced melanoma in 2011, activates the immune system, prompting to start attacking the tumor. Blocking PD-1 further activates T cells in a different manner, allowing them to continue the attack.

"Previous studies had shown that ipilimumab alone could prolong overall survival in advanced melanoma patients, and nivolumab alone could produce durable tumor responses in melanoma and other cancers, so the combination of the two drugs was quite logical and well supported by preclinical and clinical trial data," he said.

However, Dr. Wolchok notes that not all patients respond to immunotherapy and determining why some patients do not is becoming an extremely important part of advancing this field.

Because of the strong Phase I findings, researchers will begin testing the combination this June as a therapy for patients newly diagnosed with advanced melanoma in a randomized Phase III trial led by Memorial Sloan-Kettering and taking place at more than 150 institutions worldwide.

Explore further: ASCO: combo antibody therapy effective for melanoma

More information: Abstract - Hamid
Full Text
Abstract - Wolchok
Full Text
Editorial
More Information

Related Stories

ASCO: combo antibody therapy effective for melanoma

May 17, 2013
(HealthDay)—Concurrent use of two immune checkpoint antibodies—ipilimumab and nivolumab—may be effective for the treatment of advanced melanoma, according to a proof-of-principal study presented in advance of the annual ...

New drug improves progression-free survival, shrinks tumors in rare cancer for first time

June 1, 2013
The experimental drug selumetinib is the first targeted therapy to demonstrate significant clinical benefit for patients with metastatic uveal melanoma, according to new Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center research presented ...

Systemic tumor disappearance following local radiation treatment reported in metastatic melanoma patient

March 7, 2012
A rarely seen phenomenon in cancer patients — in which focused radiation to the site of one tumor is associated with the disappearance of metastatic tumors all over the body — has been reported in a patient with ...

New therapy is tolerable in lung cancer

May 31, 2013
A promising new therapy for the most common form of lung cancer appears to produce largely manageable side effects, and an ongoing clinical trial is determining whether the compound treats tumors more effectively than what's ...

New cancer drug shows promise for treating advanced melanoma

June 2, 2013
Researchers from UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center report that a new drug in preliminary tests has shown promising results with very manageable side effects for treating patients with melanoma, the deadliest form ...

Recommended for you

Alternative splicing, an important mechanism for cancer

September 22, 2017
Cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, arises from the disruption of essential mechanisms of the normal cell life cycle, such as replication control, DNA repair and cell death. Thanks to the advances ...

'Labyrinth' chip could help monitor aggressive cancer stem cells

September 21, 2017
Inspired by the Labyrinth of Greek mythology, a new chip etched with fluid channels sends blood samples through a hydrodynamic maze to separate out rare circulating cancer cells into a relatively clean stream for analysis. ...

Whole food diet may help prevent colon cancer, other chronic conditions

September 21, 2017
A diet that includes plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits may contain compounds that can stop colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases in pigs, according to an international team of researchers. Understanding how ...

Drug combination may improve impact of immunotherapy in head and neck cancer

September 21, 2017
Checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapy has been shown to be very effective in recurrent and metastatic head and neck cancer but only in a minority of patients. University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers ...

New kinase detection method helps identify targets for developing cancer drugs

September 21, 2017
Purdue University researchers have developed a high-throughput method for matching kinases to the proteins they phosphorylate, speeding the ability to identify multiple potential cancer drug targets.

Brain cancer growth halted by absence of protein, study finds

September 20, 2017
The growth of certain aggressive brain tumors can be halted by cutting off their access to a signaling molecule produced by the brain's nerve cells, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.