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Amgen feeling positive over melanoma drug

Authored by James Sheppard

Amgen has announced promising late stage data for its T-Vec drug, also known as talimogene laherparevec. T-Vec is an oncoloytic immunotherapy that is injected directly into tumour cells. The drug then replicates until the membrane of the cancer cells rupture, therefore destroying them.

The updated results were provided from a phase III trial which has been evaluating un-resected stage IIIB, IIIC or IV melanoma compared to GM-CSF. Amgen announced that the study had met its primary end point, using durable response rate. Amgen R&D chief, Sean Harper said ‘this is the first data from a controlled trial of an oncolytic immunotherapy to demonstrate activity in melanoma.

Howard Kaufman, the investigator who presented the data, stated that this novel approach could represent a paradigm shift and a totally new approach to the treatment of melanoma. Kaufman added that he particularly pleased with the side effect profile noting that, patients my feel flu-like symptoms for a few minutes but can take Tylenol (paracetamol) and continue with their daily lives.’

Interestingly, Kaufman also stated there was the potential to combine the drug in particular with PD-1 antibodies such at Merck’s lambrolizumab or BMS’s nivolumab. This could potentially offer Amgen and other companies additional sources of revenue in the future.

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