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Investigational drug may increase survival for some patients with advanced melanoma
Date:3/4/2014

expressed by some tumors and by cells in the immune system, is programmed death ligand𔃀 (PD-L2), which was discovered by Johns Hopkins investigators in 2001.

One hundred seven people with advanced melanoma were given the medication, which is administered intravenously in an outpatient clinic every two weeks. Results suggest that some patients can safely remain on the treatment for up to two years. Participants received doses of 0.1, 0.3, 1, 3, or 10 mg/kg in 12 or fewer eight-week cycles of treatment. Investigators observed responses at all doses, though the highest response rate was in seven of 17 (41 percent) patients receiving 3 mg/kg, the dose now being tested in phase III trials. Participants given that amount survived an average 20.3 months following treatment initiation.

Drug-related adverse events occurred in 84 percent of patients; 22 percent had serious side effects. Among the most common serious side effects were lymphopenia (low levels of infection-fighting white blood cells circulating in the blood); diarrhea; fatigue; and endocrine disorders. Each affected 1-3 percent of participants. There were no drug-related deaths in patients with melanoma receiving nivolumab.

Several companies also are investigating anti-PD1 agents or anti-PD-L1 agents in the treatment of cancers, including melanoma.

Ultimately, investigators envision boosting the effectiveness of the therapy by combining it with other anticancer agents, including cancer vaccines, other immunotherapies, or drugs that block enzymes called kinases, the researchers say.


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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wasta@jhmi.edu
410-614-2916
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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