Immunotherapies were first tested and adopted as treatment for melanoma and are now the most widely used drug therapy in cancer. Immunotherapy helps the body’s immune system to recognise cancer cells as foreign and to attack them.
Currently, there are ten approved drug therapies subsidised by the Australian Government on the PBS for metastatic melanoma. These drugs include checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapies (nivolumab, pembrolizumab and nivolumab combined with ipilimumab).
Immunotherapy is successfully curing a large proportion of patients with advanced melanoma. However, 50% of advanced melanoma patients either don’t respond to, or develop resistance to, the same immunotherapy treatment that proves lifesaving for others.
It is therefore critical for clinicians to be able to predict resistance to standard treatment and to identify alternative effective drug therapy options to improve survival, reduce unnecessary to drug related toxicity, and decrease costs to patients.
Providing the right treatment to the right person at the right time will not only save lives, but it will also reduce the physical, emotional, and financial costs of a patient having to go through several treatments with no certainty they will work.