November 23, 2017 |
Immune System-Based Therapy Produces Lasting Remissions in Melanoma Patients
March 5, 2014  | 

Boston, MA - A drug that unleashes the immune system to attack cancer can produce lasting remissions and hold the disease in check – for more than two years, in some cases – in many patients with advanced melanoma, according to a new study by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Yale University, and allied institutions.

The study, published online March 3rd, by the Journal of Clinical Oncology, provides the longest-term look so far at how melanoma patients have fared since receiving the drug, nivolumab, in a phase I clinical trial. The results indicate that the benefits of nivolumab not only occur quickly but can persist, even in some cases where use of the drug is discontinued.

The clinical trial involved 107 patients with advanced melanoma that no longer responded to other treatments. They received nivolumab intravenously every other week for up to 96 weeks. After one year, 62 percent of the patients were alive. After two years, 43 percent were alive.

“These are striking results for patients with metastatic melanoma,” said the study’s senior author F. Stephen Hodi, MD, director of the Melanoma Treatment Center at Dana-Farber. “This study provides the first demonstration of the long-term benefits this treatment approach can produce.”

Nivolumab is one of a new generation of drugs that essentially releases the brakes on an immune system attack on cancer. The drug blocks PD-1, a protein on immune system T cells that restrains them from leading a charge on tumor cells. By interfering with PD-1, nivolumab allows the attack to proceed. Continue>

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