Immune drugs hold hope of 'clinical cure' for deadly skin cancer
AMSTERDAM (REUTERS) - A new generation of drugs designed to trigger the immune system to fight cancer is offering the prospect of a "clinical cure" for some melanoma skin cancer patients who until a few years ago were more likely to be facing a swift death.
Cancer specialists gathering for a European conference at the weekend said the so-called immunotherapy drugs, a class led by Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy, or ipilimumab, have transformed an area of oncology in which until recently doctors barely had time to get to know their patients.
Assistant professor Stephen Hodi of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the United States said he was cautious about using the term cure, but described recent advances as a "paradigm shift".
At the least, he said, the success of this new generation of medicines means some melanoma patients would now be living with a chronic disease, rather than facing imminent death.