An independent data committee recommended the trial testing of Opdivo be stopped early, after it concluded the drug was found to be beneficial in patients with the most common form of kidney cancer. The medicine nabbed an OK, raising hopes that it could improve the lives of patients with advanced renal cell cancer.
Immuno-oncology: a ‘breakthrough’ in cancer therapy
According to the company Bristol-Myers Squibb, surgery, radiation, cytotoxic or targeted therapies have represented the pillar of cancer treatment over the last several decades. Long-term survival and a positive quality of life, however, have remained elusive for many patients with advanced disease.
To address this “unmet medical need”, the company is leading research in an innovative field of cancer research and treatment known as immuno-oncology, which primarily works with the body’s immune system to fight the disease.
These kind of therapy belongs to the broader category of medicines referred to as immunotherapies. Scientists have been studying the role the immune system can play in fighting cancer for several decades, and believe that these methods represent a ‘breakthrough’ in cancer therapy.
Opdivo, which has already been used to treat advanced melanoma and a form of lung cancer, belongs this highly promising new class of drugs.
Could Opdivo redefine cancer treatment?
The full data will be unveiled at an upcoming conference, but the company stated that Opdivo is the “first checkpoint inhibitor to prove itself in a kidney cancer trial”.
“The results of CheckMate -025 mark the first time an Immuno-Oncology agent has demonstrated a survival advantage in advanced renal cell carcinoma, a patient group that currently has limited treatment options,” said Michael Giordano, senior vice president at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
“Through our Opdivo clinical development program, we aim to redefine treatment expectations for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) by providing improved survival.”
Kidney cancer in the United States
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is considered the most common form of kidney cancer. According to the American Cancer Society around 90 percent of all kidney cancers can be attributed to it. Most recent estimates for the disease in the United States show that about 61,560 new cases of kidney cancer will occur in 2015. About 14,080 people will die from it. This risk is higher in men than in women.
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