An experimental combination therapy recently put to the test in human clinical trials has shown outstanding results in progression-free survival rates for terminally ill cancer patients.
Current chemotherapy drugs may buy a terminally ill patient a few months to live, at best, and in many cases mere weeks.
But recent trials have tested immunotherapy drugs that have proved strikingly effective against aggressive forms of melanoma and lung cancer.
Immunotherapy has been hailed as the most exciting development in cancer treatment in recent times, and it has been postulated that it will replace chemotherapy as standard treatment in the near future.
Immunotherapy works by boosting the human body’s own immune system to fight disease, and though it is commonly used in other therapeutic areas, cancer research made little use of it until now.
Recent trials were conducted on 945 patients with advanced melanoma. They were treated with a combination therapy of the drugs ipilimumab and nivolumab, and at the end of the trial, the therapy achieved a tumour reduction of over 50%, which is an outstanding result.
Dr Alan Worsley, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information officer, has said: “This research suggests that we could give a powerful one-two punch against advanced melanoma by combining immunotherapy treatments.
“Together these drugs could release the brakes on the immune system while blocking cancer’s ability to hide from it.
“But combining these treatments also increases the likelihood of potentially quite severe side effects. Identifying which patients are most likely to benefit will be key to bringing our best weapons to bear against the disease.”
The trials have so far been restricted to two types of cancer, but these therapies may soon be extended to other common cancers.
It has been claimed that the evidence in favor of this groundbreaking new treatment is so overwhelmingly positive that tens of thousands of lives may be saved in the UK alone within a decade.