Researchers at University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) have revealed that the combination of two different biotherapies may help patients with inoperable melanoma.
The researchers used two biotherapies, treatments that stimulate the immune system to fight cancer, and found that the results were quite promising in terms of anti-tumor effects and tolerable in terms of toxicity.
It was the first time that the researchers combined two biotherapies in this phase 2 trial. The biotherapies were: High-dose interferon alfa-2b, a standard treatment for metastatic skin cancer, and tremelimumab, an antibody thought to instigate the body's immune system.
"With each new study, we learn something important about melanoma. With this study, we learned that adding tremelimumab to traditional treatment is not only safe, but an effective way to induce an anti-tumor response, which is very exciting," said John M. Kirkwood, M.D., leader of the program and professor and vice chairman for clinical research in the Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
In the study, the combination treatment was given to 16 patients diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma, all of whom received and had not benefited from at least one round of previous therapy
It was found that the overall response rate was 19 percent, and after that the study entered the second stage, where it will enroll 21 patients more.
Melanoma is a rare form of skin cancer, causing the majority of skin cancer-related deaths. Each year, approximately 160,000 new cases are diagnosed worldwide, and currently surgery is the only effective cure.
In case of patients with inoperable disease, like those enrolled in this study, such discovery of a safe and effective treatment holds a big importance.
The study was presented at the 44th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago.