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Melanoma: A 2013 ‘Progress Report’

The past year saw some remarkable advances in melanoma clinical research and treatment. This feature explores the most notable melanoma news of 2013.

Immune System-Boosting Treatments Show Long-Sought Successes for Lung Cancer Patients

In the past 2 years, cancer treatments known as immune therapies have become all the rage. However, they have actually been explored for decades, particularly in melanoma, and have produced some notable successes. Now, immune therapies are showing more and more promise for lung cancer. A person’s immune system fights all kind of ‘intruders’ in his or her body, from viruses that cause the common cold to cancer cells. Immune therapies improve the ability of the immune system to recognize cancer cells in the body and kill them. For a long time, it was thought that the immune system was unable to recognize and kill lung cancer cells. But new promising results show that some people with lung cancer may actually benefit from immune therapies that boost their immune system.

New Immunotherapy Is Promising in Early Trial

Blocking a protein that protects tumor cells may shrink melanomas, according to results from an ongoing trial that were presented at the 10th International Congress of the Society for Melanoma Research in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Called PD-L1, the protein shields tumor cells from the immune system and it can be blocked [...]

Early Results for New Lung Cancer Immunotherapies Inspire Optimism

Three new immunotherapy drugs for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – nivolumab, lambrolizumab (MK-3475), and MPDL-3280A – have produced encouraging early results. All three interfere with PD-1 and PD-L1, molecules that interact to shield tumors from being attacked by the body’s immune system. In phase I trials, more than 20% [...]

Novel Anti-PD-L1 Antibody Achieves Durable Responses in Phase I Study of Patients With Metastatic NSCLC, Smokers Included

For the first time, an immunotherapy shows promise in smokers with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The engineered monoclonal antibody MPDL3280A achieved encouraging and durable responses in a phase I study in metastatic NSCLC in smokers and nonsmokers, and with squamous and adenocarcinoma histology. Responses were more robust in smokers [...]

Immune-Based Drug Shows Promise Against Lung Cancer, Especially in Smokers

Results from an early clinical trial suggest that the drug MPDL3280A is effective against non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The phase I study found that tumors shrank in 23% of patients with advanced NSCLC treated with MPDL3280A. The effect was more pronounced in smokers (who had a 26% response rate) [...]

New Drug May Mobilize the Immune System to Attack Tumors

A new drug called MPDL3280A appears to shrink tumors in patients with a range of different cancers, including lung cancer and melanoma. In an ongoing clinical trial, MPDL3280A shrank tumors in 21% of patients with advanced cancer. Response rates were even higher in subsets of patients with lung cancer (22%) or melanoma [...]

Antibody Against PD-L1 May Mobilize the Immune System to Attack Tumors

A new drug called MPDL3280A appears to shrink tumors in patients with a range of different cancers, including lung cancer and melanoma. In an ongoing clinical trial, MPDL3280A shrank tumors in 21% of patients with advanced cancer. Response rates were even higher in subsets of patients with lung cancer (22%) or melanoma [...]

Another Anti-PD1 Immunotherapy Shows Promise for Melanoma Patients

Following in the footsteps of positive results for the drug nivolumab, another anti-PD1 antibody, lambrolizumab (formerly MK-3475), is also showing promising activity in melanoma. At the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD, of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, presented data from a large, 1,000-plus patient phase I trial that also included other cancer types. Of the 135 metastatic melanoma patients treated with lambrolizumab at different doses, 38% had their tumors shrink in volume by at least 30%. The responses are durable thus far—after an average of 11 months of follow-up, 81% (42 of 52) of the patients who responded continued to respond as of March, 2013.

New Immune-Based Drug Shows Signs of Effectiveness in Several Cancers

The new cancer drug MPDL3280A has produced promising results in an early clinical trial that investigated patients with various advanced cancers including lung cancer; melanoma; and cancer of the kidney, intestines, or stomach. All participants had previously seen their cancer worsen despite treatment. Yet, during treatment with MPDL3280A, tumors shrank [...]