Biomarker Identifies Melanoma Patients Who May Respond to Immunotherapy MK-3475

“Among melanoma patients treated with the PD-1 inhibitor MK-3475, those whose tumors had the protein PD-L1 had better immune responses and higher survival rates, according to results presented here at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, April 5-9.

“When the protein PD-L1, which is present on some melanoma tumors, binds to PD-1, a protein present on T cells, “brakes” are applied on these T cells, preventing them from attacking the cancer cells. The immunotherapy MK-3475 blocks PD-1, releasing the brakes on T cells and enabling them to attack the cancer cells.”

Editor’s note: This story is about a drug called MK-3475 (aka lambrolizumab), which boosts a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. It has shown promising results in clinical trials. Learn more about MK-3475 in this blog post.


Experimental Drug Helps Body Fight Advanced Melanoma

“An experimental drug that harnesses the power of the body’s immune system to fight cancer has helped some patients with advanced melanoma keep their disease in check for several years, a new study indicates.

“Researchers think the drug, which is called nivolumab, may help reset the immune system so that as a tumor adds new cells, the immune system is able to clear them away.”

Editor’s Note: The Medical Xpress article contains a misleading statement about Yervoy (ipilimumab). The article says, “up to 49 percent of patients were still alive after one year and up to 33 percent of patients were still alive two years after taking [Yervoy].” In fact, only about 10-20% of all patients who take Yervoy experience tumor shrinkage, and 49% of those are still alive after 1 year. The response rates to nivolumab are more promising.


Cancer Vaccine Could Use Immune System to Fight Tumors

“Cincinnati Cancer Center (CCC) and UC Cancer Institute researchers have found that a vaccine, targeting tumors that produce a certain protein and receptor responsible for communication between cells and the body’s immune system, could initiate the immune response to fight cancer.

“These findings, published in the online edition of the journalGene Therapy, build on previously reported research and could lead to new treatments for cancer.”

Editor’s Note: This cancer vaccine (interleukin-15, or IL-15) is currently being given to patients in several clinical trials for several different types of cancer. Visit clinicaltrials.gov to learn more.


Cancer Vaccine Could Use Immune System to Fight Tumors

“Cincinnati Cancer Center (CCC) and UC Cancer Institute researchers have found that a vaccine, targeting tumors that produce a certain protein and receptor responsible for communication between cells and the body’s immune system, could initiate the immune response to fight cancer.

“These findings, published in the online edition of the journalGene Therapy, build on previously reported research and could lead to new treatments for cancer.”

Editor’s Note: This cancer vaccine (interleukin-15, or IL-15) is currently being given to patients in several clinical trials for several different types of cancer. Visit clinicaltrials.gov to learn more.


Cancer Vaccine Could Use Immune System to Fight Tumors

“Cincinnati Cancer Center (CCC) and UC Cancer Institute researchers have found that a vaccine, targeting tumors that produce a certain protein and receptor responsible for communication between cells and the body’s immune system, could initiate the immune response to fight cancer.

“These findings, published in the online edition of the journalGene Therapy, build on previously reported research and could lead to new treatments for cancer.”

Editor’s Note: This cancer vaccine (interleukin-15, or IL-15) is currently being given to patients in several clinical trials for several different types of cancer. Visit clinicaltrials.gov to learn more.


New Therapies Targeting Cancer could Change Everything

“In the summer of 2012, a year after his wife had died of lung cancer, Michael Harris scraped open an old mole on his back and it would not stop bleeding. The doctors said he had stage 4 melanoma, with a virtually inoperable tumor, and that patients in his condition typically lived about eight months. By last June, the cancer had spread to his liver and lungs.

“At that point Harris joined a clinical trial at Georgetown University, one of scores that have sprung up around the country to test a new class of cancer drugs called immune-checkpoint inhibitors. Two weeks after his first infusion, Harris’s primary tumor was fading, along with the black cancerous beads around it. A month later, his liver and lungs were clean.”


Clinical Trial to Examine Effectiveness of Lung Cancer Vaccine TG4010 in Select Patients

A new clinical trial will examine the effectiveness of the lung cancer drug TG4010. TG4010 acts like a vaccine: it sensitizes the immune system to MUC1, a protein expressed in high levels on many lung tumor cells, and thus primes the immune system to attack these cancer cells. A previous trial suggested that TG4010 is most likely to be effective in patients with low levels of a certain kind of immune cell called triple-positive activated lymphocytes or TrPAL. In the new trial, patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors express high levels of MUC1 and who have low levels of TrPAL will receive either TG4010 or a placebo along with their standard treatment.


Biomarker May Predict Best Response to Lung Cancer Drug MK-3475

An early clinical trial of the drug MK-3475 in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has yielded promising results. MK-3475 targets PD-1, a protein on the surface of immune cells. Another protein, PD-L1, is present on many tumor cells and can bind to PD-1, which deactivates immune cells. MK-3475 blocks PD-1, allowing the immune cells to keep attacking cancer cells. Patients with advanced NSCLC who had failed at least two other treatments were given MK-3475. Tumors shrank in 24% of the patients overall. However, tumor shrinkage occurred in 67% of patients with high levels of PD-L1 on their tumors, compared to only 9% of others. PD-L1 levels may therefore help predict which patients will likely respond to MK-3475.


Novel Immune-Based Cancer Drug Imprime PGG Appears Effective in Certain Lung Cancer Patients

Adding the drug Imprime PGG to chemotherapy and antibody therapy may be effective for certain patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Imprime PGG contains a molecule called beta glucan, which can stimulate the body’s immune cells to destroy cancer cells. This process may be especially effective in patients with high levels of immune system proteins that bind to beta glucan, so-called antibeta glucan antibodies. In a recent clinical trial, patients with advanced NSCLC received the antibody drug cetuximab (Erbitux) and the chemotherapy agents carboplatin (Paraplatin) and paclitaxel (Taxol/Abraxane), and some were also given Imprime PGG. While survival across all patients was not affected by Imprime PGG treatment, it was increased in Imprime PGG-treated patients with high levels of antibeta glucan antibodies. Seventeen percent of these patients survived 3 years or more, while none of the other patient groups did.