Encouraging results have been obtained for drugs by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Merck & Co. for treating Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The drug acts by boosting the immune system by blocking a pathway called PD-1 and fight the cancer cells which managed to evade the natural defenses of the body. Another Merck’s drug, Keytruda has been given approval by the FDA to treat melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer.
One of the hottest arenas of cancer research is medicines which naturally boosts the body’s immune system and stimulates the patient’s immune system to respond in a much more positive manner against any disease. Companies such as Merck, Bristol-Myers, AstraZeneca Plc and Roche Holding AG began at least 78 clinical trials on immunotherapies.
Merck reported yesterday that Keytruda, also known as pembrolizumab reduced tumors in 66% of a group of 29 patients. 21% of the patients went into complete remission after the conclusion of Phase I trials. A more comprehensive study will follow the Phase I trials.
In a separate Phase 1 trial, details of which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Bristol-Myers drug Opdivo or nivolumab, reduced tumors in 87% of 23 patients and 17% went into complete remissions.
More than 9190 US patients will be diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and of these 1180 patients will succumb to this disease according to figures released by the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. The disease first manifests in the WBC and usually occurs in persons between ages 15 to 35 and older than 55.