In Melanoma, Smoking Impacts Antitumor Immune Response

The immune system's response to melanoma both improves survival for untreated patients and predicts a patient's response to immune checkpoint blockade therapy. A British study has now identified several genetic factors that can be used to predict a patient's immune response to melanoma. The study has also identified a significant environmental cause of lowered antitumor immunity: cigarette smoking. For the study, published in Cancer Research , investigators used a bioinformatic analysis of 703 t...
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Merkel Cell Carcinoma: Pembrolizumab as First-Line Treatment

The second most common cause of skin cancer death, Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare and lethal cancer that usually metastasizes quickly. Researchers have discovered that the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab (Keytruda®), which has already been FDA approved as a second-line treatment for MCC, elicits a better response rate and increased progression-free survival compared with chemotherapy as a first-line treatment for this condition. In this multicenter phase II trial (Cancer Immunotherapy Tr...
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Oncolytic Herpes Virus Injection for Advanced Melanoma

A recent study has confirmed that talimogene laherparepvec (TVEC) (Imlygic®, Amgen, Inc.), an FDA-approved intralesional injection of an oncolytic herpes virus, is an effective treatment for patients with unresectable stage IIIB-IV melanoma. "Our findings in the real world mimic what the clinical trials have found," commented David W. Ollila, MD, General Surgical Oncologist at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Linebacker Comprehensive Cancer Center and corresponding author of the study, whi...
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Glucose Theory Untrue for Squamous Skin Cancer

Squamous skin cancer cells do not require glucose to grow, according to a new study. These promising findings could increase understanding of what cancer cells really need in order to develop and thrive, a discovery which would lead to more effective skin cancer treatments. In most cases, cancerous cells increase glucose uptake and lactate production compared with normal cells; this is known as the Warburg effect. The lactate that is produced increases angiogenesis—the development of new blood v...
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New Protein Mimics Interleukin 2 Sans Side Effects

Researchers have used a computer program to design a protein that mimics the action of interleukin 2 (IL-2) and interleukin 15 (IL-15) without the toxic side effects. Interleukin 2 (IL-2), a cytokine that regulates the activities of the immune system's white blood cells, is a powerful anti-cancer drug used to treat metastatic melanoma and renal cell carcinoma. However, its toxic side effects, such as impairment of kidney function, have limited its use as a cancer-fighting agent. "People have tri...
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