British researchers used a combination of common melanoma skin cancer drugs on their patients and noted that in 60 percent of cases tumors’ progression was halted, while their size was significantly reduced.
Scientists from Cancer Research UK, a pioneer medical research firm interested in finding a definite cure for cancer, led a study on nearly 1,000 patients affected by melanoma in advanced state.
During the study, researchers found that a combination of ipilimumab and nivolumab stopped cancer’s development in 58 percent of subjects.
While a paper on the research was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the findings were recently disclosed at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual conference.
The miracle cure was dubbed immunotherapy, because the patient gets cured by their own means, i.e. immune system. Cancer is so invasive because has a way of bypassing the body’s immune reactions. Moreover, the immune system has some “brakes” that prevents it from waging a war against its own organism.
But the new cure helps the immune system detect cancer cells and distinguish them from healthy tissue. Also, cancer cells can no longer hide behind the breaks that rein the immune system.
“Together these drugs could release the brakes on the immune system while blocking cancer’s ability to hide from it,”
argued Dr. Alan Worsley, from Cancer Research UK.
Both ipilimumab and nivolumab were previously approved by the U.S. F.D.A. for patient use in cases that surgery is no option or cancer had spread to other organs. Previous studies had shown that nivolumab can reduce melanoma tumors in more than 43 percent of cases, while the other drug had an efficiency of 19 percent.
But the drugs combined led to tumor reduction in 57.6 percent of the cases, making the new cure a breakthrough in skin cancer treatment.
While nivolumab prevented cancer from further spreading for nearly seven months, ipilimumab stopped tumor evolution for three months. But the combo of the two drugs resulted in a halt in melanoma advancement of nearly 12 months.
One of the researchers explained that each drug has a specific action within the human body. So using both simultaneously helps the immune system to better identify cancer cells since they remove two of its “brakes” rather than only one at a time.
But although the new cure is expected to have a bright future for treatment of cancer, it does have some drawbacks such as prolonged fatigue, skin rash, and intestinal disruption.
Image Source: Melbourne Melanoma Project
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