Immunotherapy Drug Combination Helps Extend Lives of Patients with Metastatic Melanoma; Results Termed “Practice-Changing”

A research team co-led by UCLA investigators has shown that an immunotherapy drug combination can be an effective second-line therapy for patients with an aggressive and deadly type of melanoma that is resistant to the widely used immunotherapy drugs known as PD-1 inhibitors. In clinical trials, the investigators found that the combination therapy could extend the amount of time patients live without their cancer worsening, known as progression-free survival, and that it helps overcome their resistance to prior immunotherapies--which would allow more people to benefit from the treatment. The approach combines the immunotherapy drugs ipilimumab and nivolumab, a combination that not only showed a longer progression-free survival, but also a greater overall response rate to treatment compared to those who received the current standard therapy of ipilimumab alone. The multicenter clinical trial was conducted by the SWOG Cancer Research Network, a group funded by the National Cancer Institute; the findings were reported on August 17, 2023 in the journal Nature Medicine. The article is titledIpilimumab with or without Nivolumab in PD-1 or PD-L1 Blockade Refractory Metastatic Melanoma: A Randomized Phase 2 Trial.” “The results are practice-changing,” said Antoni Ribas, MD, the study’s senior author, a Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Director of the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Tumor Immunology Program. “The combination approach should be the preferred drug regimen for people with cancer that has not responded to prior immunotherapy treatment.”
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