More than 53% of patients successfully passing initial 48 months, have higher survival rates than any previous therapy, the longest follow-up program to date, median overall survival continually rising – these are just some of the benchmarks achieved by the combination of Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab).
“To the best of our knowledge, we have not seen a 53% overall survival rate with any available treatment at four years of follow-up in a randomized setting”, said Stephen Hodi, M.D., director of the Melanoma Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in a recent press release issued by Bristol-Myers Squibb, the company that markets this therapy.
The report goes on to highlight that together, the drugs managed to reach the highest proportion of treatment-free patients and the number of cases experiencing complete response is still climbing.
Opdivo is a programmed death-1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibitor designed to augment the natural defense system of the body and help restore anti-tumor immune responses. Since it received FDA approval, it has become a staple in the treatment of a number of cancers, and the list continues to get bigger.
Also part of the new generation of immunotherapy drugs, Ipilimumab is a monoclonal antibody. It targets a certain protein, CTLA-4, which downregulates T cells (a subtype of white blood cell) responsible for dealing with internal threats.
“This study advances our mission of understanding how we can best harness the body’s immune system to fight this aggressive form of cancer and provide healthcare professionals and patients with a durable and safe treatment option.”
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that manifests through the uncontrolled growth of melanocytes (cells that produce pigment). In advanced forms, also known as metastatic, it quickly spreads to other organs and beyond the skin surface. Survival rates can get as low as 15% and the incidence rate is currently on the rise.