"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

From immunotherapy to mRNA vaccines – the most recent science on melanoma treatment explained.

Over 16,000 Australians will be assessed with melanoma every year. Most of those might be caught early, and could be cured with surgery.

However, for patients with advanced or metastatic melanoma, which has spread from the skin to other organs, the outlook is bleak until targeted therapies (which attack specific characteristics of the cancer) and immunotherapies (which profit the immune system) until the arrival of Over the past decade, these treatments have seen a big increase within the variety of advanced melanoma patients. Live for at least five years After the assessment, from lower than 10 percent in 2011 to almost 50 percent in 2021.

Although that is great news, there are still many melanoma patients. Cannot be effectively treated with current treatment. Researchers have developed two exciting latest treatments which are being evaluated in clinical trials for patients with advanced melanoma. Both involve using immunotherapy at different times and in other ways.

The first results from these trials at the moment are being shared publicly, offering insights into the longer term of melanoma treatment.

Immunotherapy before surgery

Immunotherapy works by boosting the strength of the patient's immune system to assist kill cancer cells. One variety of immunotherapy uses something called “immune checkpoint inhibitors.”

Immune cells carry “Immune checkpoint“Proteins, which control their activity. Cancer cells can interact with these checkpoints to shut down immune cells and conceal from the immune system. Immune checkpoint inhibitors block this interaction and help fight cancer.” It helps to maintain the immune system lively.

Results of an ongoing phase 3 trial using immune checkpoint inhibitors were recently published. New England Journal of Medicine.

The trial used two kinds of immune checkpoint inhibitors: nivolumab, which blocks an immune checkpoint called PD-1, and ipilimumab, which blocks CTLA-4.

More than 16,000 Australians are diagnosed with melanoma every year.
Fascinating Pictures/Shutterstock

About 423 patients (many from Australia) were enrolled within the trial, and participants were randomly assigned to one in all two groups.

The first group had surgery to remove their melanoma, after which they got immunotherapy (nivolumab) to assist kill the remaining cancer cells. Giving systemic (whole body) therapy equivalent to immunotherapy after surgery is a. Standard method A second group treated for melanoma received immunotherapy first (nivolumab plus ipilimumab) after which surgery. This is a brand new method to treat these cancers.

Based on Previous observationsthe researchers predicted that giving patients immunotherapy while your complete tumor was still present would improve the patient's immune system's tumor-fighting abilities greater than giving it after the tumor was removed.

Indeed, 12 months after starting therapy, 83.7% of patients who received immunotherapy before surgery Stayed cancer freein comparison with 57.2% within the control group who received immunotherapy after surgery.

Australian of the Year based on these results Georgina Long – who co-led the trial with Christian Blanc from the Netherlands Cancer Institute – have suggested that this approach to immunotherapy before surgery must be considered a brand new standard of take care of high-risk stage 3 melanoma. He also said that similar strategies must be evaluated for other cancers.

The promising results of this phase 3 trial suggest that we might even see this mix therapy getting used in Australian hospitals in the subsequent few years.

mRNA vaccine

Another emerging type of melanoma therapy is the mixture of a messenger RNA vaccine (mRNA-4157) with a special checkpoint inhibitor (pembrolizumab, which blocks PD-1) followed by surgery.

While checkpoint inhibitors equivalent to pembrolizumab have been around for greater than a decade, mRNA vaccines equivalent to mRNA-4157 are a brand new phenomenon. Although you could be accustomed to mRNA vaccines, equivalent to those released by biotechnology firms Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid vaccines Based on mRNA technology.

mRNA-4157 works essentially the identical way – the mRNA is injected into the patient and produces antigens, that are small proteins that train the body's immune system to attack the disease (on this case , cancer, and for COVID, the virus).

However, mRNA-4157 is exclusive – literally. This is a variety of personalized medicine, where the mRNA is tailored specifically to match the patient's cancer. First, a patient's tumor is genetically sequenced to find out which antigens will best help the immune system recognize their cancer. A patient-specific version of mRNA-4157 is then made that produces these antigens.

Updated results of a three-year, phase 2 clinical trial combining pembrolizumab and mRNA-4157. It was announced last week. Overall, 2.5 years after starting the trial, 74.8% of patients treated with immunotherapy combined with mRNA-4157 postsurgery remained cancer-free, compared with 55.6% of those treated with immunotherapy alone. The patient These were patients with high-risk, late-stage types of melanoma. Usually have poor results.

Notably, these findings haven't yet been published in peer-reviewed journals. They can be found as company announcements, and have also been presented at some cancer conferences within the United States.

Based on the outcomes of this trial, the mixture of pembrolizumab and the vaccine was developed Step 3 Test In 2023, with First patient Being admitted to Australia. But the ultimate results of the trial aren't expected until 2029.

It is hoped that this mRNA-based anti-cancer vaccine will blaze a trail for vaccines targeting other kinds of cancer, not only melanoma, particularly together with checkpoint inhibitors to stimulate the immune system. Will help.

Despite these ongoing advances in melanoma treatment, the most effective method to fight cancer continues to be prevention, which implies, within the case of melanoma, protecting yourself from UV exposure wherever possible.