Two MRA-sponsored investigators recently reported on the clinical testing of immune checkpoint inhibitors targeting a pathway known as PD-1 in the New England Journal of Medicine. This therapeutic approach, whose clinical utility was established by the FDA approval of ipilimumab in 2011, has produced promising data in patients with advanced melanoma.
A new study, published by Jedd Wolchok of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and others, evaluated the anti-PD-1 antibody nivolumab alone and in combination with ipilimumab. Of the 53 patients treated with the two drugs concurrently, nearly 50% experienced rapid tumor regression. These results suggest that the combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab may be more effective than either agent alone. To read more about these findings see, “Nivolumab plus Ipilimumab in Advanced Melanoma.”
Another study, led by Antoni Ribas of University of California, Los Angeles, and other investigators, revealed promising data on the anti-PD-1 antibody lambrolizumab. Of the 135 patients who received lambrolizumab as a single agent, a significant number of patients experienced a response, with a majority of them demonstrating durable responses for more than 40 weeks. In this study, pretreatment with ipilimumab did not appear to affect the response to lambrolizumab. To learn more about this work see, “Safety and Tumor Responses with Lambrolizumab (Anti-PD-1) in Melanoma.”
While more studies are needed to confirm these observations, this early data provides great news for melanoma patients. These results suggest opportunities to adjust the immune system’s surveillance of melanoma and harness it to fight the disease.