A large melanoma study has showed promising results for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s immunotherapy drug Opdivo underscoring its potential as a new treatment option for the skin cancer type.
According to the study, the skin cancer drug showed improved response rates with minimal side effects (toxic in nature) in comparison to chemotherapy, a common form of cancer treatment.
The data has created enough anticipation among the researchers and scientists as it has been keenly awaited because this is the first presentation of findings from the pivotal Phase III clinical study of a promising new class of drugs that are designed in such a way that they help in improving the immune system of the body to fight cancer on its own.
For the study, the researchers involved only those people diagnosed with advanced melanoma. When they were treated with the Opdivo drug, 32 percent of patients saw shrinkage in their tumors against the 11 percent of those who were treated with conventional chemotherapy drugs.
Notably, the response was also for a much longer duration. The study investigators said while the patients receiving chemotherapy treatment typically responded for just 3.6 months, the 95 percent of the patients who responded to Opdivo treatment still continued to get benefit after six months without reaching the median duration of response.
Opdivo or nivolumab, is a promising new class of drugs that is designed in such a way so that it can block a protein called Programmed Death receptor (PD-1) or a related target called PD-L1 which is used by tumors to evade the disease-fighting cells of the body’s immune system.
Meanwhile, Bristol-Myers on Friday said that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved Opdivo for a priority review and the final call was due by the end of March.