A drug trial of a new immunotherapy combination shows improvement in reducing the rate of deaths and progression than the current treatment for the cancer melanoma.
Researchers in Chicago believe the trial shows a significant advancement in the treatment of cancer.
The two drugs involved are Ipilimumab and Nivolumab, which are both prescription medications designed to help the immune system prevent cancer from growing and spreading.
Patients treated with Ipilimumab had a median progression-free survival of 2.9 months, while those treated with Nivolumab had a median progression-free survival of 6.9 months.
However, those treated with the combination reached a median progression-free survival of 14 months.
Of course, there was a downside to the combination treatment in that the increased toxicity led to twice as many adverse events due to side effects, which did cause some patients to drop out of the trial.
However, doctors insist that those adverse events were well managed, and the data shows that even those that discontinued due to side effects had positive overall results with the combination treatment.
The specific side effects of the therapy include inflammation of the stomach and bowel, which required hospitalization in some cases.
These side effects, and the fact that 36% of participants stopped treatment because of them, still make surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation the primary methods of cancer treatment.
But the new combination therapy does offer an alternative treatment, as well as potential to become a more prominent method if the side effects and finances issues can be worked out.
A spokesman from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine said, “This study highlights just how much progress we’ve made in the treatment of melanoma,” adding that the study has helped, “to define which patients may benefit from one drug and those that may benefit from both drugs.”