Immunotherapy Drug "NIVOLUMAB" Hailed As "GAME CHANGER" For Cancer.
A promising result of a new study about Nivolumab was presented at the European Cancer Congress. Nivolumab is an immunotherapy drug that has been described as a potential "game-changer" in cancer.
Professor Kevin Harrington, joint head of the Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging, at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK and Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust said "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."
Cancer affects everyone and it is one of the leading causes of death in the world. Head and neck is a major cause of cancer-associated illness and death, with more than 600,000 cases diagnosed annually worldwide and known to be NO therapeutic options prolong survival among these patients until the results of the study of Immunotherapy drug "Nivolumab" was presented in the European Cancer Congress.
Nivolumab is one of a new class of antibody drugs called checkpoint inhibitors that help the immune system fight cancer. It works by blocking signals from tumor cells that stop the immune system attacking.
The new study shows a high survival rate as it involved 361 patients of which 240 had relapsed or metastatic head and neck cancer who were given nivolumab while the other 121 patients received one of three different chemotherapies.
After a year of treatment for head and neck cancer, more patients taking nivolumab survived for longer compared with those who were treated with chemotherapy and in another study, combining nivolumab with another drug shrank tumours in advanced kidney cancer patients.
A year later, 36% of trial patients treated with the drug were still alive compared with 17% of those given standard chemotherapy. Patients who took nivolumab survived for an average 7.5 months while those who underwent chemotherapy survived for 5.1 months on average. Patients also experienced fewer side effects from immunotherapy.
The benefits of this immunotherapy drug were more pronounced in patients whose tumors had tested positive for HPV (human papillomavirus).
Professor Kevin Harrington said that "We're used to the notion that for gain there has to be pain, and that we have to ask patients to accept more toxicity to get better outcomes. But immunotherapy with nivolumab gives better survival and allows patients to function at work and socially, and experience less pain and fatigue than with chemotherapy. This is a win-win scenario for patients and their doctors."
It has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine that "Nivolumab maintains function and reduces symptoms in treatment of relapsed metastatic head and neck cancer, according to results from the CheckMate 141 trial presented at the ESMO 2016 Congress in Copenhagen."
Checkmate 141 is the phase-three study, the last stage in the testing process before a new treatment is licensed, provided the first evidence of a drug improving survival in this group of patients.
Prof Paul Workman, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, said: "Nivolumab is one of a new wave of immunotherapies that are beginning to have an impact across cancer treatment. This phase-three clinical trial expands the repertoire of nivolumab even further, showing that it is the first treatment to have significant benefits in relapsed head and neck cancer.
"We hope regulators can work with the manufacturer to avoid delays in getting this drug to patients who have no effective treatment options left to them."