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09:53:39 am

Bristol Immune Drug Shows Strong Effect In Melanoma Study - Yahoo Finance

The data has been keenly awaited since this is the first presentation of results from a pivotal Phase III clinical trial of a promising new class of drugs designed to help the body's own immune system fight cancer. In the study, involving people with advanced melanoma, 32 percent of patients saw their tumours shrink when given Opdivo against 11 percent of those treated with conventional chemotherapy drugs. Importantly, the duration of response was also much longer. Patients on chemotherapy typically responded for 3.6 months, whereas 95 percent of those who responded to Opdivo were still benefiting after six months and the median duration of response was not reached. "I was very nicely surprised," said Jeffrey Weber of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida, who presented the results at the European Society of Medical Oncology annual congress on Monday. "A 32 percent response rate with the majority staying in remission past six months is probably going to turn into a very impressive level of survival," he added. Opdivo, or nivolumab, is part of a promising new class of drugs designed to block a protein known as Programmed Death receptor (PD-1), or a related target known as PD-L1, used by tumours to evade the immune system's disease-fighting cells. The drug became the first PD-1 inhibitor to receive regulatory approval anywhere in the world in July when Japanese regulators gave it a green light, although it has been beaten to market in the United States by Merck & Co's rival Keytruda, which was approved earlier this month. On Friday, Bristol-Myers said the U.S.

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