International collaboration the key to increasing survival

International collaboration the key to increasing survival

24 October 2018

Results from clinical trials involving patients at Melanoma Institute Australia have taken centre stage at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2018 Congress in Germany.

Four and a half years after the first patient was enrolled in COMBI-AD, an international trial for Stage III melanoma patients, updated results were presented at the ESMO 2018 Congress. After a median follow-up of 3 ½ years, almost 60% of patients who were given the combination of dabrafenib and trametinib now show no evidence of disease. Investigators were also searching for genetic signatures that can act as indicators for outcome prior to treatment, however the markers they found require further study.

Also presented at ESMO were the first results for a clinical trial combining immunotherapy and an injectable therapy called SD-101. The trial involved melanoma patients with unresectable Stage III and IV melanoma receiving recurrent injections at differing doses followed by three-weekly infusions of the immunotherapy pembrolizumab for up to two years. Preliminary results indicate that the best response so far has been in the lowest dose group with two-thirds of those patients responding. This combination of therapy appears to be tolerated well by patients who show indications of a strengthened immune response because of the treatment.

ESMO 2018 Congress delegates were also presented with further results from a trial combining targeted therapy with immunotherapy for patients with unresectable Stage III and IV melanoma. Part 3 of the Keynote-022 study used a combination of dabrafenib and trametinib plus the immunotherapy pembrolizumab and results showed that at 12 months, overall survival was almost 80%. However, 67% of patients suffered severe toxicity.

Realising the potential therapeutic benefits of this combination, Melanoma Institute Australia has now begun a trial combining dabrafenib, trametinib and pembrolizumab at different doses and using varying dosing schedules. This will allow further assessment of varying combinations in an attempt to achieve maximum therapeutic benefits but minimal toxicity of this combination.

Co-Medical Director of Melanoma Institute Australia, Professor Georgina Long, said from the ESMO 2018 Congress in Munich; ‘Melanoma Institute Australia continues to lead the way in terms of trialling new combinations of treatments to maximise outcomes for melanoma patients. International collaboration remains the key to ensuring this pioneering research continues so we can increase survival rates for advanced melanoma patients and move us closer to achieving our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.’