Researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) are reporting exciting results in the field of cancer immunology. Positive results from a clinical trial published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine show that the combination of the immunotherapy drugs ipilimumab (Yervoy™) and nivolumab (Opdivo™), produced significantly better outcomes than ipilimumab alone in patients with advanced melanoma. A second piece in the same issue from MSK details a dramatic response occurring after a single dose of the combination therapy.
A research study led by medical oncologist Michael Postow and co-senior authored by MSK’s Jedd Wolchok, Chief of the Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service in collaboration with F. Stephen Hodi from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, showed that the ipilimumab-plus-nivolumab combination produced significantly better outcomes than ipilimumab plus placebo in patients with advanced melanoma. The results from this phase ll double-blind clinical trial were presented at the American Association of Cancer Research Annual Meeting (AACR).
“The incredibly high response rate seen in this trial for patients receiving the combination, approximately 60 percent now lets us tell patients that they have a high chance of significantly shrinking their melanoma with this treatment.” said lead author Michael Postow. “More research is still needed, however, to know if it is necessary to give all patients this combination or if patients should receive drugs like nivolumab and ipilimumab in sequence.”
“We are excited about these results and believe they support the principle that rationally combining effective medicines is an approach to achieving better outcomes for patients,” explained senior author Jedd Wolchok.
In addition to this study, NEJM published a letter written by medical oncologists Paul Chapman, Sandra D’Angelo, and Jedd Wolchok that describe the remarkable effect of the ipilimumab-nivolumab combination in a single patient whose melanoma had returned after surgery. The patient had a large tumor under her breast, but a single treatment with the two drugs caused the entire mass to disappear in only three weeks.
”This is one of the most astonishing responses I have seen,” said medical oncologist Paul Chapman. “It reminds us of the potential power of the immune system if we can remove the “brakes” that keep it from attacking cancer cells.”
Dr Michael Postow the lead author of the paper will be speaking at the 11th Annual European Antibody Congress this November in Basel and will be discussing the clinical development of immune checkpoint modulators. He will be presenting alongside other leading clinicians who are working on new ground-breaking immunotherapies: Dr Thomas Powles a Consultant Medical Oncologist at Barts Cancer Institute and Dr Alfonso Quintas a Global Clinical Leader for Novartis will also be considering getting novel therapies into the clinic as well as safety and regulatory considerations. Tom Powles is a lead author of a study published in nature last November on a new immunotherapy shown to be an effective treatment against bladder cancer called MPDL3280A. Dr Alfonso Quintas has been working on the clinical development of Novartis’ pivotal CTL09 therapy in a global collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania.
Immunotherapy and immune checkpoint antibodies will be a major focus as this year’s European Antibody Congress to see who else will be speaking download the brochure here. If you register to attend before the 12th June you can save £810! Book now!