A new study found that a drug which harnesses the power of the immune system in order to fight tumors spears to help patients battling advanced kidney cancer.
The drug Opdivo outperformed chemotherapy in terms of shrinking tumors and boosting patient survival.
Bristol-Myers Squibb, the maker of Opdivo funded the study. The findings will be presented at the European Cancer Congress in Vienna and will be published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The findings are significant and clinically meaningful to both patients and health care professionals.
During the study, researchers compared Opdivo against Afinitor in more than 800 people with advanced kidney cancer. All of the patients’ tumors progressed despite initial standard treatments.
Opdivo appeared to improve outcomes for patients. The median survival rose from 19.6 months for those taking Afinitor to 25 months among patients taking Opdivo.
However when the study focused on “progression-free survival” the gap between the two drugs shrank. “Progression-free survival” is time spent with the disease being in check. In that case, average progression-free survival was 4.6 months for those taking Opdivo and 4.4 months for those on Afinitor.
The data also demonstrated that a greater proportion of patients had tumor shrinkage if they were taking Opdivo compared to people on Afinitor.
Additionally, only 19% of patients taking Opdivo experienced serious side effects compared to 37% of those taking Afinitor.
During the study, there were no drug-related deaths in the Opdivo group while there were two in the Afinitor group.
Available drugs have limited activity or excess toxicity and new therapies are urgently needed.
Researchers believe that these new trial results are welcome news.