Amgen Vaccine Triggers Immune Response in Advanced Melanoma -Study

“An experimental Amgen Inc cancer vaccine used to treat advanced melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, proved effective in a late-stage study in shrinking tumors in a way that suggests the drug triggered the intended systemic immune response, according to data presented on Friday.

“The vaccine shrank tumors that were directly injected with the drug and tumors around the body that were not injected, according to the data.

“The drug, talimogene laherparepvec, also known as T-vec, is an engineered virus designed to replicate inside the injected tumor, killing cancer cells there, as well as prime the immune system to attack other cancer cells around body.”


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: Continue reading…


T-VEC Keeps Shrinking Melanomas

An experimental vaccine that is injected into melanomas can shrink them for an average of 8 months, according to findings presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2013 meeting. Called talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC), this immunotherapy consists of a virus engineered to carry human genes for granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating growth factor (GM-CSF). Once inside a tumor, T-VEC kills tumor cells both by bursting them and by boosting the immune response against them. In a phase III clinical trial, melanomas shrank in 16% of those injected with T-VEC (48 out of 295) compared to just 2% of those treated directly with GM-CSF (30 out of 141). Moreover, melanomas disappeared completely in more than 10% of those treated with T-VEC. Doctors caution that because T-VEC is injected into melanomas, this treatment is only practical for people with accessible tumors.


Anti-Melanoma Vaccine May Extend Life

Results of a late-stage clinical trial suggest that an experimental immunotherapy may boost survival in people with melanoma. Called talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC), the vaccine includes a gene called granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) that stimulates the immune system. The researchers found that people injected with T-VEC lived an average of 4 months longer than those treated with GM-CSF on its own (23 vs 19 mo). In addition, T-VEC made more tumors disappear or shrink by at least half.


Virus Shrinks Melanomas by Bursting Cells

A cancer-killing virus may shrink melanomas in people, according to new results from an ongoing clinical trial presented at the 2013 European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The virus—called talimogene laherparepvec or T-VEC—is injected into tumors, where it divides until the cells pop. The phase III trial has more than 400 people with melanoma; T-VEC shrank tumors in nearly one-third of them. Moreover, tumors didn’t grow again for at least 9 months in two-thirds of those who responded to the virus. That said, 26% of those treated with T-VEC had serious side effects including fevers and bacterial skin infections.


Engineered Virus Shrinks Melanoma Tumors in Phase III Trial

Researchers report that a modified cold sore virus may help deliver longer lasting shrinkage of melanoma tumors. Called talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC), the engineered virus kills cancer cells directly and boosts the immune response against them by tagging their surfaces with a protein called granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). T-VEC outperformed GM-CSF (administered directly) in a phase III trial of 436 people with melanomas that had spread—tumors shrank more often (26% vs 6%) and were more likely to stay shrunk for at least 6 months (16% vs 2%). The researchers caution that while promising, T-VEC is unlikely to be a stand-alone treatment and suggest that this virus might ultimately be combined with another immunotherapy such as ipilimumab.


Immunotherapies Offer Bright Prospects in Advanced Melanoma

“Inspired by the 2011 approval of ipilimumab, the immunotherapy paradigm is experiencing a fervent revival in metastatic melanoma. As attendees heard at the Melanoma/Skin Cancers Oral Abstract Session on Saturday afternoon, three novel strategies that provoke the body’s immune system to attack melanomas are enabling patients to live better and longer with their disease, further fueling the remarkable advances achieved in the field over the past 2 years.”


Genetically Modified Cold Sore Virus Shows Promise in Melanoma


A new immunotherapy known as talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC), or Ovcovex GM-CSF, has shown the ability to shrink advanced melanoma tumors. T-VEC is a genetically modified version of herpes simplex virus type 1, the virus that causes cold sores. T-VEC was also engineered to produce GM-CSF (granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor), a protein that stimulates the immune system.  Amgen, the California-based biopharmaceutical company that is developing the experimental cancer therapy, announced on March 19 that T-VEC had shown positive results in an advanced melanoma clinical trial. Continue reading…