PD-1 blockade provides ‘dramatic advance’ for the treatment of advanced melanoma

August 14th, 2018

PD-1 blockade provides ‘dramatic advance’ for the treatment of advanced melanoma

August 13, 2018

Immunotherapy agents — including ipilimumab, nivolumab and pembrolizumab — have changed the landscape of the treatment of advanced melanoma, resulting in 3-year survival rates of up to 58%. 

“In 2008, a large retrospective analysis by Korn and colleagues showed that for patients with advanced unresectable melanoma, the 3-year OS was approximately 5%,” Suzanne L. Topalian, MD, professor of surgery and oncology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, director of the melanoma program at the Kimmel Cancer Center, and associate director of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, told HemOnc Today. 

“This is compared with the current state of affairs, where we see approximately a 50% 3-year OS rate with the more modern immunotherapy regimens, either anti-PD-1 by itself or combined with ipilimumab,” she added. “So that’s a 10-fold increase in the expected OS at 3 years for patients with advanced metastatic melanoma. That really is a dramatic advance.”

The FDA approved ipilimumab (Yervoy, Bristol-Myers Squibb), an anti-CTLA-4 agent, for the treatment of unresectable locally advanced or metastatic melanoma in 2011. In 2014, the FDA approved nivolumab (Opdivo, Bristol-Myers Squibb) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda, Merck), both PD-1 blockers.

More studies are underway to assess PD-1 blockade in the adjuvant and neoadjuvant settings, as well as for other skin cancers. 

Topalian discussed the use of immunotherapy for the treatment of melanoma and other skin cancers at the Wistar Institute Noreen O’Neill Melanoma Research Symposium in June.

HemOnc Today spoke with Topalian about the current state of anti-PD-1 drugs in melanoma, research challenges and future directions of study. 

Article via Healio; image via National Cancer Institute