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Promising treatment for metastatic melanoma 'fast tracked' by FDA
Date:9/9/2010

tments were administered once every three weeks, for a total of four treatments. The study was double blinded: neither the researchers nor the patients knew which medications the patients were being given.

To participate in the study, patients must have had stage III or IV (metastatic) melanoma, and must have been previously treated unsuccessfully with another cancer drug. They must also have had a life expectancy of at least four months. 676 patients participated in the study at 125 cancer centers.

Those who received ipilimumab, both by itself and with gp 100, lived a median of about 10 months, while those who received only gp 100 lived about 6.4 months. After two years, approximately 23 percent of those who got ipilimumab were alive, while 14 percent of those who did not receive this drug survived. Ten to 15 percent of those who received ipilimumab suffered attacks on their bodies' immune systems (autoimmune reactions), and seven of the 540 patients who got this drug died from these attacks. Most adverse events suffered by study participants, however, were reversible with treatment.

A monoclonal antibody, ipilimumab activates the body's immune system to fight cancer by blocking a protein called CTLA-4. CTLA-4 is a molecule on T-cells, white blood cells that play a critical role in regulating immune responses. CTLA-4 suppresses the immune system's response to disease, so blocking its activity stimulates the immune system to fight the melanoma.

The FDA grants priority review status to drugs that offer major advances in treatment, or that provide treatment where no adequate therapy exists. The projected FDA action date for the ipilimumab application is December 25, 2010.

The John Theurer Cancer Center has more than 100 clinical trials under way for all types of cancer and life-threatening blood disorders. Clinical trials test the safety and effectiveness of new medications, therapies, treatment regimens, devices, and adjuvant trea
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Contact: Amy Leahing
amy.leahing@widmeyer.com
646-213-7245
John Theurer Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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