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Immunotherapy

What is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a treatment that activates or suppresses the immune system and by that assist the immune system in attacking the tumor. This type of treatment is very different from chemotherapy, for example, which directly attacks the cancerous cells but unfortunately also damages healthy tissues.

The immune system has “immune barriers” which serve to regulate the immune system and prevent it from attacking the body. In cancer these functions are readily activated and as a result, the immune system ceases to attack cancerous cells, enabling the tumor to grow and proliferate in the body.

Barriers known as PD-L1, PD-1 and CTLA-4 are found on T-cells and cancer cells. For example, the biological drug Opidivo® (generic name: Nivolumab) activates the immune system against the tumor.

Immunotherapy is a revolutionary strategy, and one of the most widely studied worldwide for its application to numerous types of cancer and various stages of the disease’s development. Treatment is generally provided in the form of an intravenous infusion.

Immunotherapy drugs examples:

PD-1 drugs:
• Keytruda® (Pembrolizumab)
• Opdivo® (Nivolumab)

PD-L1 drugs:
• Tecentriq® (Atezolizumab)
• Imfinzi® (Durvalumab)

What are the most common side effects?

Reaction of the skin

Redness, blisters and dryness. The skin can become sensitive when exposed to sunlight. Inflammation around the fingernails can occur and cause pain when dressing, for example.

Flu-like symptoms

Fatigue, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, body pain and high or low blood pressure

Other side effects may be:

  • Muscle Pain
  • Difficulties in breathing
  • Swelling of the legs
  • Sinus congestion
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain due to accumulation of fluids
  • Diarrhea
  • Hormonal changes
  • Cough

And there could be more

Most of the side effects will disappear at the end of the immunotherapy treatment, but some can occur months and even years later.

It is important to consult with your healthcare professional about coping with side effects.

TRIAL-IN-Pharma offers a unique, personalized research and analysis for patients with metastatic cancer and brain tumors, which reveals innovative and advanced oncologic treatments around the world and support the process of achieving them.

Read our publications on immunotherapy and other innovative treatments for stage 4 metastatic cancer:

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All about Immunotherapy

What is immunotherapy? Immunotherapy drugs assist the immune system in attacking the tumor. This type of treatment is very different from chemotherapy, for example, which directly

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Unheard of efficacy with combination of two approved drugs in the treatment of ovarian and endometrial cancers

In mid March 2019, the international annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, the SGO, was held.

At the meeting, experts from the field presented their work in the areas of endometrial cancer, cervical cancer and ovarian cancer.

One of the most powerful studies presented, was a pilot study using combination of chemotherapy and a targeted agent in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer and recurrent endometrial cancer. The two drugs are Lenvima, which a cancer drug belongs to a family of targeted drugs and the second drug is a common chemotherapy named Taxol.

Study description

In this phase I trial, patients with recurrent endometrial and patients with platinum-resistant epithelial ovarian cancer were treated with the combination of Lenvima®, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, and a weekly dose of Taxol.

Results

Weekly Taxol has been used for these diseases for many years with a very modest and unsatisfactory response rate.

The addition of Lenvima® to Taxol has dramatically raised treatment efficacy to overall response rate of 65% – About two third of patients responded to the combination: Their disease either stopped from growing or shrunken.

Yet, there are adverse events to the combination treatment and they are common, that may become a limitation in a larger population.

The News

The response rate was 71% in patients in the ovarian cancer group and 50% in patients with endometrial cancer.

The primary objective of the trial was to identify the right and most suitable dose of the combination for a continuing Phase II clinical trial.

In addition, secondary endpoints included follow-up on safety and tolerability, antitumor activity, pharmacokinetics and duration of treatment until further progression of disease.

To Summarize

It is almost unheard of such results in this population. Even though it was a very small trial on 26 patients, the efficacy observed was impressive!

There is no doubt that participation in Phase I clinical trials can also be of great benefit to cancer patients and by the time Phase II and Phase III clinical trials will be launched, the same patients who had joined this study – had won!

 

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