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Cancer

Pembrolizumab treatment for melanoma is “broadly effective”

Study results support the use of pembrolizumab in patients with advanced melanoma.

Melanoma

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Advanced melanoma (pictured) patients have few options if ipilimumab treatment fails, so now researchers have characterised tumour response to the new therapy pembrolizumab 

Patients with advanced melanoma have limited treatment options, particularly if their disease has progressed after treatment with ipilimumab. 

However, pembrolizumab, an “immune checkpoint inhibitor”, was approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in 2015 for use on the NHS for both ipilimumab-treated and naive patients with advanced melanoma. 

Researchers have now analysed survival and tumour response from pooled phase I results in 655 patients with advanced melanoma. The overall objective response rate (ORR) was 33% and the 12-month progression-free survival rate was 35%; median overall survival was 23 months. The ORR was slightly lower in patients who had previously received ipilimumab, but differences in baseline characteristics may be the cause, say the researchers. 

Reporting in JAMA (online, 19 April 2016)[1], the team say the results support the “broad activity” of pembrolizumab in patients with advanced melanoma.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/CP.2016.20201079

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