New immune-focused drugs may be effective against melanoma
According to the latest clinical trials, a new type of drugs that boost the immune system, are effective against advanced melanoma. Dr. Suzanne Topalian from the Johns Hopkins' Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, announced that the trials included ‘’immune checkpoint inhibitors’’ that ‘’tell’’ the immune system to destroy cancer cells. The researchers have discovered that an immune checkpoint inhibitor, Keytruda, is better than the current drug against advanced melanoma, Yervoy. Also, these trials show that the patients respond better to a treatment that included both immune checkpoint inhibitors than only Yervoy.
Patients with advanced melanoma without those new drugs can live only 9-11 months, but with these immune checkpoint inhibitors, they may live 5 or even 10 years. With this discovery, the new age comes. Now, therapies are far more effective. If a patient doesn’t respond to Yervoy, doctors may use a second generation of immune checkpoint inhibitors. In the phase III, Keytruda, anti-PD1 drug, had better results and less side-effects than Yervoy.
The trial included 834 people in 16 countries. All of them had advanced melanoma. 1/3 received the current drug, while the rest of them received Keytruda. After 6 months, patients who took Keytruda, had 45% of progression-free (the cancer had not increased its size) and 26% those who were treated with Yervoy. Overall survive rates after 12 months were: 74% and 68% for Keytruda and 58% for Yervoy. Also, 12% of patients who were treated with Yervoy responded compared with 33% of those who were treated with Keytruda. 20% of those who took Yervoy had side-effects, while Keytruda were responsible for 12%. This treatment cost $100.000 a year.