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Nivolumab gives Kidney Cancer patients hope
Survival Data results from CheckMate -025 announced
Kidney Cancer UK are greatly encouraged by the release of data from an American clinical trial which shows great promise for a new drug to treat advanced kidney cancer.
The drug nivolumab is currently approved in America for use for melanoma and lung cancer. A clinical trial – CheckMate -025, a Phase III study which compared the investigational compound nivolumab to everolimus, was stopped early when nivolumab proved more significantly more effective in extending survival in advanced kidney cancer patients than everolimus.
Nivolumab acts in a different way to other current treatments for kidney cancer which either aim to kill tumour cells or stop tumour cell growth. Nivolumab is an anti-PD-1 (programmed death-1) monoclonal antibody which acts by blocking the receptor PD-1 on T-cells (part of the immune system), which reinvigorates the T-cells and allows them to attack the cancer cells. Often, T-cells are inactivated by a substance cancer cells produce which activates the PD-1 receptor on the T-cells. Activating the PD-1 receptor causes the T-cell to become inactive so it doesn’t do its job and attack cancer cells. Nivolumab acts as an immunomodulator and stops the PD-1 receptor from being activated, which in turn boosts the body’s own ability to attack cancer cells.
The PD-1 blockade is thought to specifically reinvigorate immune cells that are able to target cancer. It does not generally activate the entire immune system and this could help to reduce the side effects of the drug.
Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer, accounting for around 80% of all cases. In the UK, around 10,100 people were diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2011 and, in 2012, around 4,300 people died from the disease – an average of more than 11 people every day. Over the past 20 years, kidney cancer in the UK has increased by around 70%; it is now the eighth most common cancer. Approximately 20% of kidney cancer patients will have stage IV disease when first diagnosed (cancer that has spread/metastasised). In these cases, it is estimated that only 5% of men and 5% of women will survive for five years or more, after diagnosis.
The Fund’s Chairman, founder and kidney cancer survivor, James Whale said; “It’s great news that a new form of cancer drug is looking so promising. We all hope that this important development translates to a drug that becomes available quickly in the UK and continues to show results and offer hope in the fight against kidney cancer.”