Tuesday, May 26, 2015

First large clinical trial shows benefit for melanoma

CANCER DIGEST – May 26, 2015 – For the first time a large clinical trial comparing a viral immunotherapy to a standard treatment has definitively shown to increase cancer-free survival for patients with cancer.

Led by British researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, 436 patients at 64 centers worldwide with aggressive, inoperable malignant melanoma
were randomly assigned  to receive either an injection of the viral therapy, called Talimogene Laherparepvec (T-VEC), or a standard immunotherapy.

A total of 163 people with stage III and early stage IV melanoma treated with T-VEC lived an average of 41 months. This compared with an average survival of 21.5 months in the 66 earlier-stage patients who received the standard immunotherapy. Some patients had a response extending past three years. The trial was funded by Amgen the manufacturer of T-VEC, and is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The new drug uses a genetically engineered herpes virus that can halt the progression of skin cancer two ways – by killing cancer cells directly, and by spurring the immune system into action against tumors.

"Our study showed that T-VEC can deliver a significant, durable benefit for people with melanoma,” said trial leader Professor Kevin Harrington at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, “It is encouraging that the treatment had such a clear benefit for patients with less advanced cancers - ongoing studies are evaluating if it can become a first-line treatment for more aggressive melanomas and advanced disease."

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