Melanoma News at ASCO 2017: Combination Treatments


There are many hopes that combining immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs, or combining them with drugs of other types (immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or chemotherapy) is the future of treatment for many kinds of cancer. Literally hundreds of clinical trials are actively exploring these combinations, and melanoma is the cancer for which trials of this type abound. Last month, the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago featured just a few presentations in this area, apparently because it is too early to report results from the many ongoing trials with drug combinations. Continue reading…


Ipilimumab vs Placebo in Metastatic Chemotherapy-Naive, Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer Without Visceral Metastases

Excerpt:

“In the phase III CA184-095trial reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Tomasz M. Beer, MD, FACP, of the Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, and colleagues found that ipilimumab (Yervoy) did not increase overall survival vs placebo in men with asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic chemotherapy-naive metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer without visceral metastases. Ipilimumab was associated with prolonged progression-free survival and a higher prostate-specific antigen (PSA) response rate.”

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Nivolumab/Ipilimumab Highly Active in Patients With Melanoma Brain Metastases

Excerpt:

“Nivolumab plus ipilimumab demonstrated an intracranial response (ICR) rate of 42% in asymptomatic patients with melanoma brain metastases who had not received prior local therapy to the brain.

“In the phase II Anti-PD1 Brain Collaboration (ABC) trial, the 6-month intracranial PFS rate was 46% with the anti–PD-1/CTLA-4 combination.

” ‘The combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab has high activity in melanoma brain metastases and may be considered for upfront therapy in such patients,’ said lead author Georgina V. Long, BSc, PhD, MBBS, clinical researcher at the Melanoma Institute Australia and Westmead Hospital in Sydney.”

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Immunotherapy Combination Promising in Advanced Melanoma

Excerpt:

“Combination treatment with an intratumoral injection of Coxsackievirus A21 (CVA21) and the cytotoxic T-lymphocyte–associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) inhibitor ipilimumab has demonstrated durable response with minimal toxicity among patients with advanced melanoma, according to data (abstract CT114) presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2017, held April 1–5 in Washington, DC.

“Response to the combination occurred even among several patients whose melanoma had progressed despite prior treatment with an immune checkpoint inhibitor.”

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Opdivo (nivolumab) in Combination with Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Opdivo Monotherapy Significantly Improved Overall Survival Versus Yervoy Alone in Patients with Previously Untreated Advanced Melanoma

Excerpt:

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY) today announced the first overall survival (OS) data from the Phase 3 CheckMate -067 clinical trial. With a minimum follow-up of 28 months, the median OS had not yet been reached in either of the two Opdivo treatment groups and was 20 months for the Yervoy monotherapy group (95% CI: 17.1-24.6). Opdivo in combination with Yervoy and as a monotherapy reduced the risk of death 45% [hazard ratio (HR) 0.55; 95% CI: 0.42-0.72; P<0.0001] and 37% (HR 0.63; 95% CI: 0.48-0.81; P<0.0001), respectively, compared with Yervoy alone. The two-year OS rates were 64% for the Opdivo plus Yervoy combination, 59% for Opdivo alone and 45% for Yervoy alone. Results will be presented today in the press program and an oral presentation during the Update, Novel Indication, and New Immuno-oncology Clinical Trials session from 3:35 to 3:50 p.m. ET (Late-Breaking Abstract CT075) at the American Association for Cancer Research Meeting 2017 in Washington, D.C.”

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Metastatic Melanoma: Not Quite Curable…But Getting There


By 2050, the number of deaths due to malignant melanoma in the U.S. could be three times lower than peak levels reached before 1960. Researchers presented the data behind this prediction at the 2017 European Cancer Congress in January.

It is unclear how much of this anticipated decline in deaths can be attributed to the availability of new, effective treatments. However, it is obvious that much-increased awareness of sunlight exposure as the single factor most responsible for the development of skin melanoma has contributed to lower incidence of the disease.

In any case, the armament of treatments available for metastatic melanoma is currently such that this diagnosis has transformed from being almost universally fatal (even just a few years ago) into a being largely treatable. Since 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved eight new drugs for melanoma. Continue reading…


Expert Discusses State of Immunotherapy in Prostate Cancer

Excerpt:

“Advancements in immunotherapy in the field of prostate cancer have been slow ever since the FDA approval of sipuleucel-T (Provenge) several years ago.

” ‘It’s an exceptionally challenging area. After the success of sipuleucel-T, there have been combinatorial approaches using radiopharmaceuticals, such as radium-223, the checkpoint inhibitor ipilimumab (Yervoy), as well as some chemotherapy regimens,’ says Susan F. Slovin, MD, PhD.

“In an interview with OncLive at the 2017 Interdisciplinary Prostate Cancer Congress, Slovin, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, offered her expert insight on the current state of immunotherapy in prostate cancer.”

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Clinical Trials Test Treatments for High-Grade Brain Tumors


With a few exceptions, glioblastoma (GBM) remains largely incurable, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved few treatments for the disease. Surgery (when feasible), radiation, and temozolomide are used in most patients. But even if a newly diagnosed tumor can be surgically excised, recurrences are too common.

In this blog post, I simply list some of the new treatments available in clinical trials for GBM and other high-grade brain tumors. Only drugs that have at least some preliminary results of activity are included, and the list is not meant to be fully comprehensive. The interested reader can judge for herself what might be of interest, keeping in mind that no single treatment is suitable or will work for all GBM patients. Continue reading…


Super Patient: Peter Fortenbaugh Faces the Uncertainty of Pioneering Melanoma Treatment


In spring of 2014, Peter Fortenbaugh noticed what appeared to be a tick that had bitten his lower calf. “It turned out not to be a tick, but it didn’t really go away,” he says.

The spot began to grow and bulge, and in October, Peter showed it to his primary care doctor, who referred him to a dermatologist to remove it. At the time, Peter recalls, it did not occur to him that the growth could be serious.

“I was actually very concerned about skin cancer because I spent a lot of time out in the sun sailing,” Peter says. “I put on a tremendous amount of sunscreen and protection, but never on my legs…I never connected the dots.”

However, a biopsy of the growth came back positive for melanoma. Peter, who lives in Palo Alto, California, with his wife and three children, immediately reached out to several doctors in the San Francisco Bay Area, and all had the same advice: “Take it out, take a biopsy.” Continue reading…