Melanoma drug holding up well after further testing

2013-07-11T21:03:00Z Melanoma drug holding up well after further testingMcClatchy Newspapers Arizona Daily Star
July 11, 2013 9:03 pm  • 

Merck’s late-stage melanoma drug, lambrolizumab, continues to show great promise in shrinking the deadly tumors, particularly when taken at the highest dosage offered in trials, according to a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

At the end of 12 weeks, the intravenous drug had shrunk tumors in 52 percent of patients when administered every two weeks, at a dosage of 10 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Even when a lower dosage, and more time in between dosages, were taken into account, the overall tumor-response rate was 38 percent.

In most patients who showed a positive response, the results lasted beyond one year. And a dozen patients showed a “complete response,” meaning their cancer was gone altogether.

Considering that melanoma is the deadliest of the skin cancers, killing some 9,000 people each year, discussing survival in terms of years and not months has cancer specialists using words they had rarely ventured to use during the previous three decades of research into the disease.

“This is monumental,” said Dr. Jack Jacoub, medical oncologist at the MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., who was not involved in the research. “Things look much more optimistic for this disease.”

Read more in Friday’s Arizona Daily Star and at azstarnet.com

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