New melanoma drug improves survival

THE first drug shown to improve survival for patients with metastatic melanoma, Yervoy (ipilimumab), has been approved by the FDA.

Given intravenously, the monoclonal antibody immunotherapy blocks a molecule that may play a role in turning off the body’s immune system, affecting its ability to fight cancerous cells.

An international study of 676 patients who had stopped responding to other therapy found recipients lived an average 10 months.

About 60% taking the therapy experienced side-effects, with 13% having severe or fatal autoimmune reactions.