New drugs may hold the key to melanoma treatment
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/3/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Two new drugs may provide an exciting and striking treatment option for those who suffer from advanced cases of melanoma.
Image scans of Steele's lungs before and after his treatment. The left scan shows numerous gray colored cancer tissues, which are gone in the right, after his treatment.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In separate international trials, new drugs pembrolizumab and nivolumab, have seen great success treating melanoma, which is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, and also causes the most amount of deaths of any skin disease. When melanoma spreads to other organs it is very difficult to treat, and, until a few years ago, average survival was around half a year.
Both drugs are designed to help the immune system recognize and target cancerous cells by blocking the biological pathway the cancers use to disguise themselves from the immune system.
Pembrolizumab, formerly known as MK-3475, was tested on 411 patients, of which 69% survived for at least one year. This drug is also being tested on cancers which utilize a similar method to block attacks from the immune system.
"Pembrolizumab looks like it has potential to be a paradigm shift for cancer therapy," said Dr. David Chao, consultant oncologist at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. Chao is conducting trials on melanoma and lung cancer patients.
64-year-old Warwick Steele has been receiving infusions of the drug every three weeks since October, and has seen phenomenal results.
"I got tired simply standing up and was literally too exhausted to shave. But now I feel back to normal and can do gardening and go shopping," he said.
Prior to his treatment, Steele could barely walk because the cancers in his lungs made it hard to breath. Scans have shown that just after three infusions, the cancer seems to have been totally cleared out of his lungs.
Nivolumab, which was tested in conjunction with the existing immunotherapy ipilimumab, saw 85% of its' 53 patients survive past a year, and 79% after two years.
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