Cancer drug combination shrinks 60% of melanomas
A pair of cancer drugs can shrink tumours in nearly 60% of people with advanced melanoma, a new trial has suggested.
An international trial on 945 patients found treatment with ipilimumab and nivolumab stopped the cancer advancing for nearly a year in 58% of cases.
UK doctors presented the data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Cancer Research UK said the drugs deliver a “powerful punch” against one of the most aggressive forms of cancer.
Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is the sixth most common cancer in the UK – it kills more than 2,000 people in Britain each year.
Harnessing the immune system is a rapidly developing field in cancer research.
The immune system is a powerful defence against infection. However, there are many “brakes” built in to stop the system attacking our own tissues.
Cancer – which is a corrupted version of healthy tissue – can take advantage of these brakes to evade assault from the immune system.
Ipilimumab, which was approved as an advanced melanoma treatment by the UK’s health service last year, and nivolumab both take the brakes off.
An international trial on 945 people showed that taking both drugs led to tumours shrinking by at least a third in 58% of patients – with the tumours stable or shrinking for an average of 11.5 months.
The figures, published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine, for ipilimumab on its own were 19% and 2.5 months.