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Improving the success rate of Ipilimumab for melanoma patients

  • Researcher: Dr Fernando Pastor
  • Institution: Fima Fundación Para la Investigación Médica Aplicada, Pamplona, Spain
  • Award Amount: £186,750 from 1st October 2015 for 3 years
  • Cancer Type: Skin Cancer
Improving the success rate of Ipilimumab for melanoma patients
There has been accumulating evidence over the past few years that immunotherapy is going to be the next big thing in therapy options for cancer patients. The first immunotherapy treatment approved by the FDA was Ipilimumab and Dr Fernando Pastor is now trying to make it as successful as possible.The results of Ipilimumab treatment have shown unprecedented results in melanoma. However, it is very selective, only having an effect on a small number of patients.  Dr Fernando Pastor explains “There are still no good markers to predict which patients will be more likely to respond to the treatment.  A plausible reason for the failure in some patients could be that their tumours are too similar to healthy tissues from an immunological point of view. The immune system is designed to attack foreign bodies and not our own healthy cells so while some tumours might express molecules that can be recognized as “foreign” by the immune system, others do not so Ipilimumab wouldn’t work. He continued “To solve this problem, I propose a strategy to combine Ipilimumab with other treatments to promote the immune response specifically in the tumour.  We will do this by targeting the most aggressive tumour cells and making them produce ‘abnormal molecules’ and so will be considered by the immune system as “foreign”. This treatment strategy is aimed at patients for whom Ipilimumab is ineffective and also those that display the most aggressive melanomas, with higher metastatic (cancer spread) rates and resistance to conventional chemotherapy.
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