Australian researchers lead world in successful trial of new cancer treatment

Australian researchers lead world in successful trial of new cancer treatment.

3 June 2021

In a breakthrough which could extend to the treatment of other cancers, a new immune checkpoint inhibitor has proven effective in helping save the lives of advanced melanoma patients.

Relatlimab is the first immunotherapy treatment to target LAG-3, a protein in immune cells which reinvigorates and enhances the tumour fighting response.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors targeting the CTLA-4 and PD-1 proteins have revolutionised treatment of advanced melanoma over the past seven years. These treatments are most effective when used in combination, but this tends to increase their toxicity. Some 50% of patients either do not respond, or develop resistance, to these treatments and therefore it is vital that new treatments are developed.

Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) Co-Medical Director, Professor Georgina Long AO of The University of Sydney, said the successful trial of relatlimab, targeting the LAG-3 protein, makes it a critical new weapon in the fight to save all lives from melanoma.

‘This drug gives us a third immune checkpoint inhibitor to add to the treatment toolkit which may be the difference between survival or not for melanoma patients around the world,’ Professor Long said.

‘Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer cells and having a third immune checkpoint inhibitor means we can potentially make inroads in saving the 50% of advanced melanoma patients who don’t respond to current treatments.

‘Australian researchers and patients were critical to trialling this new treatment which has very real potential to also extend to other cancers.’

The findings from the RELATIVITY-047 trial will be presented this weekend at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. Professor Georgina Long is senior lead author for the international trial and MIA was a leading contributor of patients for the study.

Results showed that in previously untreated advanced melanoma patients, combining relatlimab with nivolumab (an immune checkpoint inhibitor targeting the PD-1 protein) doubled the progression free survival time compared to the use of nivolumab alone (10.1 vs 4.6 months respectively).

At one year, almost 50% of patients on the combination therapy had no disease progression, whereas nearly two-thirds of patients on the single therapy had progressed. Importantly, the combined therapy was also far less toxic to patients.

‘Immunotherapy has already transformed the treatment of melanoma and other cancers, with anti-PD-1 therapies leading the way,’ Professor Long said.

‘This new immune checkpoint inhibitor that targets LAG-3, and its proven effectiveness when used in combination, improves outcomes for melanoma patients even further and will likely impact cancer treatment globally.’

Melanoma Institute Australia is affiliated with The University of Sydney and Professor Long co-leads the Translational Research Group at the Charles Perkins Centre.

Watch Prof Georgina Long AO and melanoma survivor Andrew Bennett when the breakthrough was announced on Channel 9 news:


Media - for more information, please contact:
Jennifer Durante
e: media@melanoma.org.au
m: 0412 798 990

Kyly Clarke urges Aussies to step up to save lives from melanoma
03 Feb 2020

Kyly Clarke urges Aussies to step up to save lives from melanoma

Australian television presenter, interior designer and mother Kyly Clarke has been announced as the new Ambassador for Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and its national awareness and fundraising campaign Melanoma March.

Improving support for our patients across Australia.
03 Feb 2020

Improving support for our patients across Australia.

Melanoma Institute Australia has recently partnered with three other organisations to boost support for melanoma patients and their carers across Australia.   

Boost to melanoma support in WA
31 Jan 2020

Boost to melanoma support in WA

Melanoma patients and their families across Western Australia will benefit from strengthened and expanded services with the merging of melanomaWA and Melanoma Institute Australia.

New Test to Predict Primary Melanoma Progression
21 Jan 2020

New Test to Predict Primary Melanoma Progression

Australian researchers have played a critical role in the discovery of a potential new test to predict which early stage melanoma patients are at high risk of their disease recurring and progressing.

Community Fundraising December Wrap-Up
14 Jan 2020

Community Fundraising December Wrap-Up

We are extremely grateful for our community fundraisers, who, even in this difficult time, have given up their time and effort to fundraise so we can continue to work towards our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.

Two melanoma treatments approved for PBS listing
24 Dec 2019

Two melanoma treatments approved for PBS listing

Melanoma patients are set to benefit from subsidised access to immunotherapy treatment for high risk early-stage and advanced-stage melanoma patients.    

Immunotherapy: the decade's biggest health advance
23 Dec 2019

Immunotherapy: the decade's biggest health advance

An informative article on how immunotherapy is revolutionising cancer treatment, written by Jill Margo and featured in the Australian Financial Review.  

 

Boost to Melanoma Services in the Riverina
12 Dec 2019

Boost to Melanoma Services in the Riverina

Melanoma patients and their families in the Riverina will benefit from strengthened and sustained melanoma services with the merger of the Amie St Clair Melanoma Trust and Melanoma Institute Australia.

Winner of the SunSafe Student Ambassador Program announced
11 Dec 2019

Winner of the SunSafe Student Ambassador Program announced

Belmont High School at Lake Macquarie has been announced winner of the 2019 SunSafe Student Ambassador Program video competition.

Community Fundraising November Wrap-Up
04 Dec 2019

Community Fundraising November Wrap-Up

It’s time again to say thank you to our amazing community fundraisers!

MIA & MPA Patient Information Evening videos now available
03 Dec 2019

MIA & MPA Patient Information Evening videos now available

Videos of the sessions at the recent Patient Information Evening co-hosted by Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and Melanoma Patients Australia (MPA) are now available for viewing.

MIA shines in poster session
22 Nov 2019

MIA shines in poster session

MIA is well-represented in the poster sessions at the Society for Melanoma Research 2019 Congress in the USA, with four poster presentations being given by members of our translational research lab.

MIA Co-Medical Director opens SMR Congress in USA
21 Nov 2019

MIA Co-Medical Director opens SMR Congress in USA

Professor Georgina Long has today opened the Society for Melanoma Research 2019 Congress in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Highly Cited Researchers List names MIA Co-Medical Directors
20 Nov 2019

Highly Cited Researchers List names MIA Co-Medical Directors

MIA’s Co-Medical Directors, Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer, have both been named Highly Cited Researchers, according to the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers 2019 list.

MPA and MIA collaboration
07 Nov 2019

MPA and MIA collaboration

Melanoma Patients Australia (MPA) and Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) have announced a new multi-year agreement to provide enhanced support services for melanoma patients nationally.

Community Fundraising October Wrap-Up
04 Nov 2019

Community Fundraising October Wrap-Up

It is time again to say thank you to our incredible community fundraisers who are helping us get closer to our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.

Promising data for advanced melanoma patients
09 Oct 2019

Promising data for advanced melanoma patients

MIA has presented promising data regarding progression-free survival rates for advanced melanoma patients at the ESMO 2019 Congress in Barcelona.

Melanoma Information Forum
04 Oct 2019

Melanoma Information Forum

We are delighted to partner with Melanoma Patients Australia to host a Melanoma Information Forum at The Poche Centre on 6th November.

Community Fundraising September Wrap-Up
02 Oct 2019

Community Fundraising September Wrap-Up

Another month has flown by and yet again we have a host of amazing community fundraisers who generously gave up their time to help us reach our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.

Notice for Supporters to Submit to PBAC
26 Sep 2019

Notice for Supporters to Submit to PBAC

Comments in favour of giving patients with BRAF-positive melanoma access to first-line immunotherapy need to be submitted online prior to October 9, 2019.