New Immunotherapy Cancer Drug Hailed As A ‘Game-Changer’

A push is on to move as fast as possible to get a new immunotherapy cancer drug to market. So revolutionizing and promising is this new immunotherapy cancer drug that doctors are chomping at the bit to get it into the hands of cancer patients.

The immunotherapy drug is called nivolumab, and head and neck cancer patients who received it have survived considerably longer in research studies than those who have been treated with traditional chemotherapy. In a concurrent study, cancer patients that were treated with both the immunotherapy drug nivolumab, combined with another drug, were able to shrink tumors considerably in patients with advanced kidney cancer.

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Among those individuals that have head and neck cancer, survival rates are traditionally quite poor. Immunotherapy works by harnessing the body’s own immune system and enabling it to destroy cancer cells, and the new immunotherapy drug nivolumab is making those individuals with head and neck cancer have a much greater outlook.

The latest immunotherapy study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The immunotherapy study was conducted on over 350 patients. More than a third of the cancer patients that were treated with the immunotherapy drug nivolumab were alive one year after beginning treatment compared with just 17 percent that were still alive one year later after being treated with chemotherapy. The immunotherapy research also concluded that those individuals treated with nivolumab were subject to far less harmful side effects as those individuals that were treated via chemotherapy.

The positive effects of the immunotherapy drug nivolumab were also promising when used on patients who suffered from tumors caused by HPV, or human papillomavirus. When treated with immunotherapy, HPV tumor patients lived an average of 9.1 months, compared to 4.4 months when treated with chemotherapy. Statistically, the researchers said that those with a cancerous HPV tumor area usually expected to live less than six months.

In instances of kidney cancer, a study of 94 subjects with an advanced form of the disease found that using both the immunotherapy drug nivolumab in conjunction with another drug called ipilimumab caused a significant reduction of tumor size in over 40 percent of the patients. Better yet, in the patients in which the immunotherapy cocktail reduced the tumor size, one-in-10 of those patients showed no sign of the cancer returning.

The immunotherapy drug research was conducted at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, and involved 20 research organizations from around the world. It was funded by Bristol Myers Squibb.

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One of the lead authors of the new research, Professor Kevin Harrington, Professor of Biological Cancer Therapies at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Consultant at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, commented on what this new immunotherapy drug could mean.

“Nivolumab could be a real game-changer for patients with advanced head and neck cancer. This trial found that it can greatly extend life among a group of patients who have no existing treatment options, without worsening quality of life. Once it has relapsed or spread, head and neck cancer is extremely difficult to treat. So it’s great news that these results indicate we now have a new treatment that can significantly extend life, and I’m keen to see it enter the clinic as soon as possible.”

This latest research involving the immunotherapy drug nivolumab comes hot on the heels of the news that AstraZeneca is using a similar multi-medicine approach to treating lung cancer. Could it finally be that utilizing these new immunotherapy and multi-med treatments could mean an eradication of cancer in the 21st Century? Imagine a world where lung, breast, head, neck, kidney and all other types of cancers were merely a thing of the past.

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