New French Study Correlates Melanoma Benefit From Keytruda® — With Onset Of Vitiligo

I just ran across an interesting study outcome in JAMA (summarized here). And to be clear, images of the two smart, vivacious and lovely young women at right appear not in any way to define them by their skin, but more to celebrate them, and reaffirm that this study finding is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. [Of course — it should be obvious that neither model takes or endorses Keytruda®, nor does either have any form of cancer.]

As I read on, I learned that other topical conditions, including the more troublesome eczema, seem to be associated with melanoma patients receiving pembrolizumab — and, for that matter, BMS’s Opdivo®, as well — as an alternative therapy. I guess I mention it all here, primarily to say that if (as now seems clear), these two agents convey a significant survival benefit in end stage melanoma patients, the side effect of vitiligo, or eczema even, is likely a trade-off most would be willing to accept.

I do also want to keep a record of interesting findings, related to immuno-oncology, since that is Kenilworth’s power-alley at the moment. Here’s just a bit:

. . . .The onset of vitiligo may be associated with clinical benefit in patients with metastatic melanoma who were treated with Keytruda, according to study results recently published in JAMA Dermatology.

Researchers in France conducted a prospective study of patients with metastatic melanoma from Jan. 1, 2012 to Sept. 24, 2013, at the Cancer Campus of Gustave Roussy Institute. The patients had confirmed diagnosis of unresectable stage III or IV melanoma and had received Keytruda (pembrolizumab, Merck) according to a phase 1 protocol. Data were collected and analyzed.

Objective tumor response regarding the occurrence of vitiligo in patients receiving treatment of pembrolizumab was the primary outcome. Kaplan-Meier product-limit method was used to estimate the correlation between vitiligo occurrence and overall survival.

Seventeen patients (25%) developed vitiligo during pembrolizumab treatment. A higher occurrence of vitiligo was associated with an objective (complete or partial) response to treatment (12 of 17 patients vs. 14 of 50 patients; P = .002). The median time to onset of vitiligo was 126 days from start of treatment. . . .

We will keep you informed, as these longitudinal studies progress. [And Gosh, are they gorgeous.] Onward — to see new city flats, and ride the mountain bike. . . smiling ear to ear, now.

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