ASCO 2018 – the important role of clinical trials

ASCO 2018 – the important role of clinical trials

6 June 2018

Clinical trials are just that – trials in a clinical setting to evaluate the effectiveness or otherwise of individual and combination treatments.

Melanoma Institute Australia’s Conjoint Medical Director Professor Georgina Long presented results of a recent clinical trial at ASCO 2018 in Chicago. The clinical trial, led by MIA evaluated the efficacy of a combination of epacadostat plus pembrolizumab  versus pembrolizumab  alone in patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

It was projected that the combination treatment would improve patient outcomes with minimal or no side effects. However, results of the clinical trial showed the combination treatment had no clinical benefit over the single agent treatment in patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma. It is important to note that while there was no improvement, there was no deterioration in patients either and no change or additional side effects. Patients simply remained the same.

The results of this clinical trial highlight the importance of conducting such trials to improve treatment and patient outcomes. “It is significant as we now know that this particular combination treatment has no additional patient benefit,” said Professor Long. “We need to go back to the drawing board to see what other combinations could potentially work in these patients.

“Combination therapy has been proven to work with other patients and other immunotherapy drugs, and it is a matter now of further research to determine what combinations may work for this subset of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma,” she said.