New anti-cancer drug extends life of melanoma victims
A new experimental drug developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Medarex extends the lives of patients with advanced melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, researchers said.
The results paved the way for dealing with a form of cancer that has few treatment options. Melanoma cases have climbed faster than any other cancer type over the past 30 years, researchers said.
Nearly a quarter - 24 percent - of patients with advanced melanoma survived for an unusual two years after being administered intravenously with ipilimumab.
Forty-four to 46 percent of patients treated with ipilimumab were alive after one year of trials compared to 25 percent of patients treated with other methods, the study pointed out.
"Randomized clinical trials have repeatedly failed to demonstrate an improvement in overall survival in patients with advanced melanoma," said lead author Steven O'Day, who heads the melanoma program at The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute in southern California.
O'Day described the study findings as "an exciting advance, both for patients with advanced melanoma and for the field of cancer immunology."
He presented the study at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting this weekend in Chicago.
Lynn Schuchter, professor of medicine at Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said these findings were "really exciting" because ipilimumab and other new cancer drugs produced far fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.
"This drug takes the brake off and allows for further immunological response, and this is going to be the first time that a trial with patients with advanced melanoma shows a survival benefit," Schuchter said.
She noted that just six months ago, doctors really had no effective therapy for patients with stage 4 melanoma.
Ipilimumab belongs to a new class of drugs that activate the immune system's T cells, which then seek and destroy melanoma cells, instead of targeting the cancer cell itself like previous treatments.
In the clinical test, patients who took ipilimumab or were treated with a combination of the antibody and a peptide vaccine, also aimed at boosting the immune system, lived a median of 10 months, against 6.5 months for those administered a placebo or a peptide vaccine alone.
The Phase III clinical trial studied some 600 melanoma patients in several countries. Patients generally tolerated the treatment well, the researchers said.
Experts pointed out that given the success of the trials, the US Food and Drug Administration was expected to grant permission to market the medicine relatively quickly.
Ipilimumab was forecast to generate more than 400 million dollars in sales in the first several years following its approval.
Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, and the number of people affected by it has been increasing for 30 years, according to the World Health Organization.
Skin cancer annually kills 66,000 people around the world, the WHO said, and 80 percent of these deaths are attributable to melanoma.
As many as 68,000 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the United States last year, and about 8,600 people died of the disease.
In France, 7,000 cases of melanoma are detected each year, and an average of 1,300 of them have a fatal outcome.
Life & Style blogs
Guest post by Richard Sexton, business development director of e.surv chartered surveyors
Plus lateral thinking and living on London's waterways
Other popular areas include Didsbury, Clifton in Bristol, central Cambridge and West Bridgford
Living with Google Glass: what are they actually like to wear?
Microsoft's Xbox One: Have the price (£399) and release date (30 November) been leaked by online retailer Zavvi?
Splint made by 3D printer used to save baby’s life
The 10 Best road-trip gadgets
Xbox One vs PlayStation 4: Why Microsoft's console name game just doesn't add up
- 1 Friends and colleagues pay tribute to soldier killed in Woolwich machete attack Drummer Lee Rigby
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.