Jimmy Carter, Melanoma, And The Promise Of Immunotherapy In The Elderly - (Forbes via NewsPoints Desk)

  • News that former US President Jimmy Carter is receiving treatment with Merck & Co.'s Keytruda for his recurrent melanoma illustrates the promise and potential of immunotherapies for elderly patients with advanced cancer, Forbes reported Friday.
  • Keytruda, which inhibits the PD-1 signalling pathway, has been cleared by the FDA for the treatment of advanced melanoma and is under review for non-small-cell lung cancer.
  • The therapy, which amassed $192 million in revenue for the first six months of 2015, is expected to generate sales of $5 billion by 2018.
  • In the past, elderly patients were generally not considered for treatment with novel therapies because the side effects were considered too harsh, while immunotherapeutics have proven to be relatively mild in clinical studies.
  • Other immunotherapies that have been approved include Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo and Yervoy, while an FDA advisory panel recently recommended approval of Amgen's talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC), an engineered virus-based therapy, for melanoma.
  • Earlier this year, Merck revealed that it has partnered with Amgen to assess the efficacy of Keytruda plus T-VEC in patients with metastatic melanoma and head and neck cancer.

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