A recent clinical study titled “Ipilimumab Plus Sargramostim vs Ipilimumab Alone for Treatment of Metastatic Melanoma: A Randomized Clinical Trial” and published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), has shown that in patients suffering from advanced melanoma the combination of Yervoy (ipilimumab) and sargramostim can enhance life expectancy by 5 months.
The trial, which involved researchers from several institutions including the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, University of Pittsburgh, or the Vanderbilt University, enrolled 245 patients with advanced melanoma who received either intravenous Yervoy (an anti-CTLA4 antibody) alone or Yervoy plus injections of sargramostim, a recombinant granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) that functions as an immunostimulator.
Researchers observed that patients administered the combination treatment, had a median survival of 17.5 months, compared to only 12.7 months observed in those on Yerboy alone. Additionally, combination treatment achieved an overall survival of 69%, while single Yervoy treatment only reached 53%.
“Patients did live longer, as well as having less serious side effects, when given the combination,” lead researcher Dr. F. Stephen Hodi, an assistant professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said in a WebMD news release.
If melanoma is diagnosed at an early stage, chances are it can be treated and will not develop into its deadly form. These types of medical advances focusing on combinations therapies have the possibility to change the outcome of melanoma patients who already suffer from an advanced form of disease, and extend patient’s life expectancy.
“The future is really with combination therapies, how we combine targeted therapies, and the results of this trial suggest that the combination of sargramostim and ipilimumab should be part of that mix”, Dr. Hodi explained in the news release.
“It’s exciting to know that we are making such important progress in an otherwise terminal condition where traditional chemotherapy and radiation are essentially useless”, added Dr.Doris Day, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
It is still not known if treating early stage melanoma patients with combination therapy, before it becomes metastatic, could further improve survival. However, Dr. Day believes it is a possibility. “If patients are treated at diagnosis or after surgery, they may have a better outcome”.