The study was sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb, which makes Yervoy.
This is the first study to combine chemotherapy and immunotherapy both safely and effectively; a study to test vemurafenib in combination with Yervoy has already begun.
"Neither one are the real answers, but they are steps forward and that's what we need," said Turnham, who added that he thinks the real answers will come in combination therapies.
"We need to be nimble about combination studies," he said. "In the two years that we've known we need to study vemurafenib and ipilumumab [Yervoy], 18,000 people have died of melanoma in the U.S. We can't afford to wait. We're very excited about the positive news, but we have a long way to go."
The Skin Cancer Foundation has more on melanoma.
SOURCES: Tim Turnham, Ph.D., executive director, Melanoma Research Foundation; Stephen Hodi, M.D., director, Melanoma Center, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston; June 5, 2011, New England Journal of Medicine, online; June 5, 2011, presentations, American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, Chicago; June 5, 2011, news conference with Paul Chapman, M.D., attending physician, melanoma/sarcoma service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, and Lynn Schuchter, M.D., division chief of hematology-oncology, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
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