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Business: Washington Post Business Page, Business News

"Kim Sherman was in bad shape a year ago after a lemon-sized melanoma tumor in her pelvis stopped responding to standard targeted therapy. By late June 2013, the pain from the mass pressing on her hamstring became so bad she could hardly sleep, walk, or even sit down.

"Then she joined a trial on an experimental drug from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. designed to boost the immune system against her tumor when used in combination with the company’s existing immune enhancing drug Yervoy. Within three weeks the pain started to subside, and within three months later the tumor disappeared. Her doctor at Yale Cancer Center in New Haven may stop therapy entirely in a few weeks, she said."

Editor's note: This article discusses immunotherapy treatments, which boost a patient's own immune system to fight cancer. Learn more about immunotherapy for melanoma in The Basics.

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The Washington Post  |  Jun 2, 2014

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10 Issues to Consider During National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

10 Issues to Consider During National Skin Cancer Awareness Month | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Accounting for approximately half of all cancers in the United States, skin cancer is widely recognized as the most common cause of cancer nationwide. More than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, and according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, incidences of skin cancer outnumber all combined cases of breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.


"With the month of May designated as National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, HemOnc Today highlights 10 issues for oncologists and dermatologists to consider for their patients, as well as the new guideline revisions and research regarding the identification, treatment and management of patients with melanoma and skin cancer."

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Healio  |  May 15, 2014

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Biomarker Identifies Melanoma Patients Who May Respond to Immunotherapy MK-3475

Biomarker Identifies Melanoma Patients Who May Respond to Immunotherapy MK-3475 | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Among melanoma patients treated with the PD-1 inhibitor MK-3475, those whose tumors had the protein PD-L1 had better immune responses and higher survival rates, according to results presented here at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, April 5-9.


"When the protein PD-L1, which is present on some melanoma tumors, binds to PD-1, a protein present on T cells, "brakes" are applied on these T cells, preventing them from attacking the cancer cells. The immunotherapy MK-3475 blocks PD-1, releasing the brakes on T cells and enabling them to attack the cancer cells."


Editor's note: This story is about a drug called MK-3475 (aka lambrolizumab), which boosts a patient's own immune system to fight cancer. It has shown promising results in clinical trials. Learn more about MK-3475 in this blog post.

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Medical Xpress  |  Apr 7, 2014

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Advances in Immunotherapy Brighten Prospects for People with Cancer

Advances in Immunotherapy Brighten Prospects for People with Cancer | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

The enthusiasm for anticancer immunotherapies continues to build, with two treatments already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and clinical trials underway for a variety of promising new candidates. The latest approaches include targeting a protein called PD-L1, which shields tumor cells from immune system attacks. In a phase I clinical trial of a PD-L1 blocker made by MedImmune, early results suggest that this treatment shrinks melanomas as well as kidney, lung, and colon tumors. Next, the researchers hope to open this trial to people with head and neck cancers as well. Another approach entails adding the gene for an immune system booster (interferon beta) to a therapeutic virus (vesicular stomatitis virus) that kills cancer cells, but not normal ones. This treatment is being tested on liver cancer in a phase I trial and early results are encouraging.

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The Miami Herald│Jul 26, 2013

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The Miami Herald│Jul 26, 2013

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The Miami Herald│Jul 26, 2013

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New Immune-Based Drug Shows Signs of Effectiveness in Several Cancers

The new cancer drug MPDL3280A has produced promising results in an early clinical trial that investigated patients with various advanced cancers including lung cancer; melanoma; and cancer of the kidney, intestines, or stomach. All participants had previously seen their cancer worsen despite treatment. Yet, during treatment with MPDL3280A, tumors shrank significantly in more than one-fifth of the patients. Response rates were especially high in lung cancer and melanoma patients. Of the patients who responded to MPDL3280A, almost all continue to see effects now, 3 to 15+ months into the study. MPDL3280A targets a protein, PD-L1, that is often expressed on cancer cells and 'hides' the cells from the body's immune response; by blocking PD-L1, MPDL3280A allows the immune system to attack the tumors. Further studies will be needed to confirm these findings.

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ASCO Post | May 17, 2013

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ASCO Post | May 17, 2013

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New System for Treating Cancer Seen as Hopeful

New System for Treating Cancer Seen as Hopeful | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Drugs that unleash the body’s immune system to combat tumors could allow patients with advanced melanoma to live far longer than ever before, researchers gathered at the nation’s largest cancer conference say.


“ 'It’s a completely different world for patients with metastatic melanoma, to talk about the majority of patients being alive for years rather than weeks or months,' said Dr. Jedd D. Wolchok, a melanoma specialist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, interviewed at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology here."


Editor's note: This is a good exploration of immunotherapy treatments for melanoma; immunotherapy for lung cancer is also discussed.

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The New York Times  |  Jun 2, 2014

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The New York Times  |  Jun 2, 2014

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Future of Cancer Treatments

Future of Cancer Treatments | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"The news spurred hundreds of phone calls and emails to Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada from across the country: Two Stage 4 cancer patients at the Las Vegas center, after participating in the first human trial of an antibody drug with the unwieldy code name of MPDL 3280A, were now cancer-free.


"Rosemary Rathbun, 78, had been so far gone with throat cancer that doctors told her to enroll in hospice. Lorrine Rodgers, 56, had been told there were no other treatments for her spreading breast cancer.


"That their cancer disappeared, the women said in January, was a miracle."


Editor's note: This story is a great overview of an increasingly promising type of cancer treatment called immunotherapy. Immunotherapy treatments boost a patient's own immune system to fight cancer.

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Las Vegas Review-Journal  |  Apr 26, 2014

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Las Vegas Review-Journal  |  Apr 26, 2014

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New Immunotherapy Is Promising in Early Trial

New Immunotherapy Is Promising in Early Trial | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Blocking a protein that protects tumor cells may shrink melanomas, according to results from an ongoing trial that were presented at the 10th International Congress of the Society for Melanoma Research in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Called PD-L1, the protein shields tumor cells from the immune system and it can be blocked by a drug called MPDL3280A. The phase I trial included 45 people with melanoma who were treated with the PD-L1 blocker, and tumors shrank in one-third of them. This PD-L1 blocker is also being tested in a phase I trial in combination with the BRAF inhibitor drug vemurafenib, as well as in several phase II trials against renal cell carcinoma and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In addition, two drugs similar to this PD-L1 blocker (nivolumab and MK-3475) are being tested in phase III trials against melanoma.

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Cancer Network│Nov 19, 2013

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New Drug May Mobilize the Immune System to Attack Tumors

New Drug May Mobilize the Immune System to Attack Tumors | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A new drug called MPDL3280A appears to shrink tumors in patients with a range of different cancers, including lung cancer and melanoma. In an ongoing clinical trial, MPDL3280A shrank tumors in 21% of patients with advanced cancer. Response rates were even higher in subsets of patients with lung cancer (22%) or melanoma (29%). Treatment benefits lasted from 3 to 15 months and counting; 26 of the 29 patients who benefited continue to respond to this day. There was wide variation in how quickly patients responded to treatment, with some experiencing significant improvement within days, and others after weeks of unresponsiveness. MPDL3280A was generally well tolerated, with few cases of severe side effects.

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ASCO Daily News | June 13, 2013

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ASCO Daily News | Jun 13, 2013