06/4/2014

Skin cancer drugs show promising results

NEWS

Researchers say that two drugs being tested to fight advanced skin cancer are proving to be effective in trials.  The findings were released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago.

The two experimental drugs, called pembrolizumab and nivolumab, block the biological pathway cancers use to disguise themselves from the immune system.

It’s very hard to treat cancer that has spread to other organs, and until a few years ago, the average survival rate was around six months.

In the pembrolizumab trial, researchers looked at 411 patients, and 69 percent of them survived at least a year. This drugs is also being tested against other types of tumors that use the same mechanism to trick the immune system.

The second drug, nivolumab, was tested in combination with existing immunotherapy, ipilimumab. In this trial of 53 patients, 85 percent survived after one year, and 79 percent after two years.

Researchers caution that these are Phase I, early stage trials, and that they'll have a better idea of the effectiveness of the drugs after much larger Phase III trials in a year.

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