Live4Life and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Live4Life Continues To Make a Difference in Patients with Advanced Melanoma 

This is an extremely exciting time for cancer research. Our understanding of molecular biology in cancer is increasing rapidly and that is leading to new therapeutic strategies and new agents to significantly improve the lives of cancer patients.

Medical oncologist Jedd D.Wolchok, MD, PhD is one of the leaders in this field. His work is dedicated to the development of novel ways to use the immune system to fight melanoma. Just this year the US FDA approved two new drugs to treat metastatic melanoma: Ipilimumab (Yervoy) takes the breaks off the immune system to allow the immune system to become more activated than it otherwise would, resulting in the creation of antibodies and T-cells that can recognize melanoma and control the disease. It is the first drug ever to show an improvement in survival in patients with metastatic melanoma. Before ipilimumab there were only two drugs approved in the U.S. to treat melanoma and there has not been a new drug approved in over 13 years. B-RAF inhibitor (Vemurafenib) causes programmed cell death in melanoma cell lines. It works in patients who have the B-RAF mutation, approximately 60 percent of patients.

The Live4Life Foundation has been our partner from the beginning and has been instrumental in supporting these developments. This is a momentous time for our patients and for MSK’s physician-scientists. This important work could not have been achieved without the generosity of the Live4Life Foundation. The next steps in this work include learning how to combine these drugs with other important medicines to treat cancer. Through these drugs we have extended survival for 20 to 30 percent of people with advanced melanoma, but this is not good enough. We want to make a difference in 100 percent of melanoma patients. Dr. Wolchok is now engaged in a study examining the combination of ipilimumab and anti-PD1 antibodies for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. The purpose of the study is to understand how these two therapies may interact when combined.

This year has been particularly satisfying, as exciting clinical results, recently presented by Dr. Wolchok, and his team at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that more than half of patients with advanced skin melanoma experienced tumor shrinkage of more than 80 percent when given the combination of the immunotherapy drug ipilimumab (YervoyTM) and the investigational antibody drug nivolumab, suggesting that these two drugs may work better together than on their own.

Our next steps include a pivotal, global phase three trial to confirm these observations, which could once again change the standard of care for metastatic melanoma. We are thrilled about these findings, and we are equally as confident that there is still great potential to identify additional therapies which will enable the immune system to more aggressively attack cancer.

Please continue to support Live4Life Foundation’s efforts. They really do make a difference in the lives of patients with advanced melanoma. Without your support physicians like Dr. Wolchok would not have the funds to make collaborations, interact with scientists and statisticians, develop clinical trials, and analyze data.

Click on links below to read about advances in Melanoma treatment:

Groundbreaking Advances In The Treatment Of Advanced Melanoma Led By Physician-Researchers At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Novel Immunotherapy Drug Receives FDA Approval
for the Treatment of Metastatic Melanoma

MSK Patient Profile: melissa Breitbart-Sohn

Melanoma Treatment Harnesses Immune System to Combat Cancer Cells

Click here for the latest article about Dr. Wolchok and the news at ASCO

New York Times

The Wall Street Journal


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