Work supported by the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) - Cancer Research Institute (CRI) - Immunology Translational Research Dream Team, launched in 2012 to focus on how the patient's own immune system can be harnessed to treat some cancers have pioneered an approach to predict why advanced melanoma patients respond to a new life-saving melanoma drug. This new drug, pembrolizumab (Keytruda), was recently approved by the FDA. These findings are reported in Nature online November 26, 2014, ahead of print in the journal.
Over a two-year study, researchers including Dr. Antoni Ribas of UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center and co-leader of the CRI-SU2C Immunology Dream studied 46 patients with advanced melanoma treated with pembrolizumab. These patients had tumor biopsies before and during treatment. The researchers analyzed those biopsies and classified them according to whether the patient responded or not to pembrolizumab. The study then used the biopsy findings to predict the likelihood whether patients would likely to respond to this treatment