It is a heady time, indeed -- and this is a $35 billion a year market opportunity (come 2016, when under full-sails). Here is the latest, via PharmaTimes, from ASCO:
. . . .In the [Nivolumab] study, 94 patients with inoperable stage III or IV melanoma were injected with the combination of checkpoint inhibitors every three weeks.
After two years of follow-up (one year data has been previously reported) the response rate in this patient population (with few other treatment options) was 41%, with nine patients experiencing a complete remission. The same percentage of patients had a greater than 80% reduction in tumour mass.
More importantly, after two years of follow-up the median overall survival rate of the cohort was 79%, at an average time of 39.7 months. “Now, even though this is a small trial,” said Dr Sznol, “This is an impressive two-year overall survival.”
To put the results in context, previously. . . the median survival for these patients was as little as one year, with less than 25% of such patients surviving as long as two years. . . .
The combined use of two new agents that boost the immune system has demonstrated an unprecedented improvement in tumour regression and overall survival for patients with advanced melanoma. . . .
This is a moment it would be hard to over-state -- an astonishing moment in the science of cancer treatments. You see -- people who, prior to Nivolumab or Pembrolizumab (each with Yervoy, generically called ipilimumab) were literally on their death-beds, have sat up, dusted their immune systems off, kicked it (their self healing powers) into high gear -- and walked away -- largely in remission; certainly no longer considered near death. Jaw-slacking indeed! A time of wonder.