Combination immunotherapy shrinks melanoma brain metastases
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IMAGE: This is Hussein Tawbi, M.D., Ph.D. view more 

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Credit: MD Anderson Cancer Center

Combination immunotherapy shrank melanoma that has spread to the brain in more than half of the patients in a clinical trial reported in the New England Journal of Medicine led by an investigator at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

New England Journal of Medicine

Of 94 patients in the single-arm study combining checkpoint inhibitors ipilimumab and nivolumab, at a minimum follow-up of nine months and a median of 14 months, 24 (26 percent) had a complete response, 28 (30 percent) had a partial response and 2 (2 percent) had stable disease.

“As treatment for stage 4 melanoma has improved greatly in recent years, our patients with metastases to the brain have remained the group most in need, they’ve had the worst prognosis, so we are very excited about these results,” said the national study’s principal investigator and lead author Hussein Tawbi, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Melanoma Medical Oncology at MD Anderson.

“This practice-changing study proved that you can start with immunotherapy first with these patients, tackling both brain and extracranial disease at the same time,” Tawbi said. “And it opens up new opportunities for development of systemic therapies

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