Melanoma – UV1 plus Keytruda, A Breakthrough


Melanoma is a unique type of skin cancer that originates from cells known as melanocytes. The main function of these cells is to produce a substance called melanin, which gives your skin, eyes, and hair their color.

To put things into perspective, melanoma comprises 1% of all skin cancer types, which is the only positive aspect of this tumor since it is life-threatening if not discovered early.

In this article, we will cover a new combination of drugs that could potentially help thousands of patients with melanoma.

What is the UV1 cancer vaccine?

Ultimovacs’s UV1 is a peptide-based vaccine that induces an immune response against the universal cancer antigen Telomerase. In other words, this vaccine allows your immune cells to recognize and attack the tumor.

Without the vaccine, cancer cells would simply mutate, which confuses the immune system and stops the initial inflammatory response.

What is Pembrolizumab [Keytruda]?

Keytruda is a type of immunotherapy against cancer.

Keytruda showed impressive results in treating melanoma.

An ongoing phase III clinical trial includes 954 participants to evaluate the efficacy of Pembrolizumab in resected high-risk stage II melanoma.

The estimated primary results will be available in the fall of 2023.

The uses of Keytruda vary depending on where you’re located in the world. For instance, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of this drug for any unresectable or metastatic solid tumor with certain genetic anomalies.

On the other hand, European union oncologists prescribe it for several forms of cancer, including a limited use for the treatment of melanoma.

The results of phase I clinical trial (NCT03538314)

The results of phase I clinical trial that focused on the effects of UV1 combined with Keytruda in patients with metastatic melanoma were positive, to say the least.

As you may know, the purpose of phase I clinical trial is to assess the safety and tolerability of the medication – both of which were met in this study.

A second study that included 10 patients with inoperable or metastatic melanoma showed that 6 patients experienced significant tumor shrinkage. Out of these patients, 30% had a complete remission. In other words, the tumor was undetectable.

Collecting data from the phase I clinical trial and the cohort study suggests that the combination of UV1 with Keytruda has a lot of potential in the treatment of advanced cases of melanoma.

Scientists believe that this therapy stimulates the immune system to eradicate cancer cells, which explains its effectiveness in metastatic tumors.

Note that the study is still ongoing to monitor the patients for the 2-year follow-up. The results are expected to be ready in the fourth quarter of 2021.

The criteria to include patients in this study were as follow:

  • Age – patients had to be above the age of 18
  • Advanced case of melanoma – only stages 3B, 3C, or 4
  • No previous treatment for melanoma
  • Eligibility to receive Keytruda
  • Normal kidney and liver function

Takeaway message

The combination of UV1 with pembrolizumab seems to produce promising results for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

We hope that the upcoming clinical trials would reveal more positive results, which could save thousands of lives every year.

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Melanoma – UV1 plus Keytruda, A Breakthrough
Melanoma – UV1 plus Keytruda, A Breakthrough

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