Tumor Variations Predict Responses in Melanoma


Researchers have identified some molecular markers that help determine whether melanoma will respond to certain immunotherapy agents. These results were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Newer agents used for the treatment of melanoma harness the immune system to help fight the cancer. Some patients have an incredible and long-lasting anti-cancer response to these agents, while other patients have minimal responses.

Researchers have been attempting to understand which characteristics make melanoma susceptible to the killing effects of some of these agents and conversely, which characteristics render melanoma virtually unresponsive to the same agents.

In an attempt to answer that question, researchers evaluated tumor tissue from patients with melanoma who had been treated with the immune-stimulating drugs ipilimumab or tremelimumab.

Researchers found that patients with specific molecular markers had a significant increase in their responses to the drugs compared to patients who did not have those markers.

The authors stated that these results “define a genetic basis” for responses to these agents and that this “provides a rationale for examining” these markers among patients with melanoma.

Future studies will have refine these results to ultimately bring them to clinical practice.

Reference: Snyder A, Makarov V, Merghoub T, et al. Genetic basis for clinical response to CTLA-4 blockade in melanoma. New England Journal of Medicine. November 19, 2014DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1406498