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Nivolumab plus ipilimumab shows better tolerance, effectiveness in metastatic kidney cancer

A new cooperative research study finds that nivolumab plus ipilimumab therapy demonstrated manageable safety, notable antitumour activity, and durable responses with promising long term overall survival in patients with metastatic renal cell cancer (mRCC).

The multi-institutional study known as the CheckMate 016 study evaluated the efficacy and safety of nivolumab plus ipilimumab in combination and found that the combination treatment showed enhanced antitumour activity compared with monotherapy in tumour types such as melanoma.

The team's findings have recently been published in Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Renal cell carcinoma accounts for 2.4% of total cancer cases worldwide, with 338,000 patients diagnosed each year.

More than one quarter of these patients present with metastatic disease associated with high mortality.

Current treatment options are quite limited, and toxic side effects make them difficult for patients to withstand.

Newer immunotherapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors nivolumab and ipilimumab have demonstrated better response rates and tolerability through different but complementary mechanisms of action.

The combination of these agents has previously been shown to achieve better responses compared with either drug alone in patients with metastatic melanoma and lung cancer, which suggested to researchers that the same may be true for this combination across various tumour types, including mRCC.

"New immunotherapies are showing great promise and novel combinations of these produce more effective treatments than the two used separately," said Lionel Lewis, MB BCh, MD, Norris Cotton Cancer Center. "In this study our results show the combination to be highly effective with durable tumour effects that turn into a longer life for patients with kidney cancer that has spread." The team's findings, "Safety and Efficacy of Nivolumab in Combination With Ipilimumab in Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma: The CheckMate 016 Study" have recently been published in Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Next steps include further follow up of patients on this study and a larger Phase III study of nivolumab plus ipilimumab in combination in mRCC and other solid tumours.

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