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Combinatorial Immunotherapy Approach to Treat Skin Cancer

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  • Combinatorial immunotherapy with vaccines and immunotherapy, is the latest advance made to treat melanoma.
  • The vaccines are designed to activate the immune system and trigger anti-tumor immune response.

Combinatorial Immunotherapy Approach to Treat Skin Cancer

New combinatorial immunotherapy could be a promising approach to treat melanoma.


Melanoma, is a deadly form of skin cancer that arises from the melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells that make melanin, a pigment giving skin its color.


Melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin. It is highly aggressive and more common than other skin cancers.

Being aggressive, it metastasizes or spreads to other parts of the body rapidly.

The number of new cases reported, have been increasing over the past 40 years. The death rate varies by age, with higher death rate in people over 50 years of age.

Substantial progress has been made over the last few decades in treating this potentially fatal skin cancer.

Combinatorial Immunotherapy

In a paper published in Melanoma Management, Adam Riker, MD, Professor of Surgery and Chief of Surgical Oncology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, reviews approaches to manage melanoma, including one tested at LSU Health New Orleans that provoked a complete response in a patient with a long history of the disease.

A combination of vaccines and immunotherapy, hold promise for melanoma management.

Results of Phase II clinical trial of a novel combinatorial immunotherapy conducted at LSU Health New Orleans, have been reported.

Researchers tested a combination of an interferon and a melanoma vaccine which is genetically altered to activate the immune system in 25 patients.

Triggering Immune Response

This approach activated the immune system in a select few, including the complete response in a patient who had melanoma for eight years at the time of the study.

"I saw this happy patient back in my office just a few months ago, still without evidence of disease," Riker reports.

The researchers also discuss about the possible use of this therapy in inoperable melanoma in the skin and lymph nodes.

The FDA recently approved talimogene laherparepvec. It uses herpes simplex virus-type 1 which is designed to selectively replicate within tumors and produce GM-CSF. This is a white blood cell growth factor that enhances systemic anti-tumor immune responses.

The combinatorial immunotherapy has shown a response rate of 10.8%.

"We still have much work ahead in our continuing efforts to identify effective treatment options that will stimulate and activate the immune system to destroy melanoma wherever it may grow," notes Riker. "Current research is very promising, though," he adds. "We have entered a truly exciting era in our ability to successfully treat patients with melanoma."

Researchers are trying to understand if this combinatorial approach can be used in melanomas that are operable as well.

Source: Medindia

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