Nivolumab and Melanoma

Summary and Comment |
April 10, 2014

Nivolumab and Melanoma

  1. Hensin Tsao, MD, PhD

This follow-up study confirms survival benefit and demonstrates long-term safety and response duration.

  1. Hensin Tsao, MD, PhD

“Immune checkpoints” regulate the outcome of lymphocyte engagement with antigen-presenting cells and tumor cells. They down-modulate the adaptive immune responses that can enable cancer cells to evade immune attack. Immune checkpoint therapies have gained prominence over the past year, as critical trials of anti–CTLA-4 (ipilimumab), and anti–PD-1 and anti–PD-L1 therapies targeting the programmed-cell death receptor have shown highly promising results. Now, investigators report long-term follow-up of patients treated with the anti–PD-1 therapy nivolumab.

The authors retrospectively reviewed overall survival, safety, and response duration after treatment cessation in 107 patients with advanced melanoma who received intravenous nivolumab every 2 weeks for up to 22 months. Median overall survival in these patients was 16.8 months; 1-year and 2-year survival rates were 62% and 43%. One-third of patients had objective tumor regression. Of 17 patients who discontinued nivolumab for reasons other than disease progression, 12 maintained response for 16 to 52 weeks after discontinuation. Twenty-four patients experienced grade 3 to 4 treatment-related adverse events, and 54% experienced adverse events considered to be immune related. There were no treatment-related deaths.


This follow-up study confirms a favorable response of advanced melanoma to nivolumab. Immune therapy's promise for treating cancer lies in its potential durability and applicability beyond mutation status. Identification of immunogenetic markers that can predict which melanoma subpopulations are likely to be cured with treatment remains the Holy Grail in this approach.

Editor Disclosures at Time of Publication

  • Disclosures for Hensin Tsao, MD, PhD at time of publication Consultant / advisory board Genentech; Quest Diagnostics; WorldCare Clinical Grant / research support NIH; Department of Defense; American Skin Association Editorial boards British Journal of Dermatology; Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology; Journal of Investigative Dermatology Leadership positions in professional societies American Academy of Dermatology (Chair, Skin Cancer and Melanoma Committee); American Board of Dermatology (Director)


Reader Comments (1)

dr giovanni benedetti Physician, Oncology, italy

right and useful

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