New research indicates that combining two drugs that target a prime survival strategy of tumors, can be safely administered and this is potentially more effective than either drug alone for advanced and inoperable melanomas.
The drugs-ipilimumab and bevacizumab-are both monoclonal antibodies, intensified formulations of natural disease-fighting proteins.
Ipilimumab spurs the immune system to attack diseased cells, including tumor cells. Bevacizumab, also known by the trade name Avastin, blocks the growth of blood vessels that provide tumors with nourishment.
Ipilimumab has extended the lives of metastatic melanoma patients in previous clinical trials, and bevacizumab is often used to treat tumors of the colon, lung, and kidney.
"Our findings indicate that ipilimumab and bevacizumab can be safely administered with careful management of side effects," said F. Stephen Hodi, MD, the study's lead author and director of the melanoma treatment center at Dana-Farber.