Rare Melanoma Type Highly Responsive to Immunotherapy

Source: European Pharmaceutical Review, January 2018

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered that patients with desmoplastic melanoma are more responsive to immune-activating anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapies than previously assumed.
Desmoplastic melanoma is a rare subtype of melanoma that is commonly found on sun-exposed areas, such as the head and neck, and usually seen in older patients. Treatment is difficult because these tumours are often resistant to chemotherapy and lack actionable mutations commonly found in other types of melanoma that are targeted by specific drugs.
Drugs that reactivate a patient’s own immune system to target cancer cells are rapidly changing the face of cancer therapy. Pembrolizumab and nivolumab have been approved to treat melanoma, and others are in development. These drugs block the interaction between the proteins PD-1 and PD-L1. During cancer development, PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibit the immune system and allow tumour cells to escape detection and continue to grow. By blocking their interaction, immune-activating drugs re-stimulate the immune system to detect and destroy cancer cells.
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