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Immune Drug From Bristol Performs Well

An experimental drug , BMS-936558, may help stregthen the body’s immune system to ward off cancer.

June 3, 2012– A Bristol-Myers Squibb experimental drug helped to shrink tumors with advanced melanoma, lung and kidney cancers in an early trial. The results raise hopes that yet another medication will work in waking up the body’s immune system and train it to ward off cancer cells.

The drug BMS-936558 was used in early-stage tests known an anti-PD-1 treatments and showed it shrank tumors in 60% of the cancer types in the study and was relatively safe. The study team saw shrinkage in tumors that was significant in 18% of 76 patients with lung cancer, in 28% of the 94 patients with melanoma and in 27% of the 33 kidney cancer patients.

Researchers said the regression rates were significant considering the type of cancer they were treating. Cancer experts and analysts on Wall Street have hopes for the new treatment, the second of its kind that helps speed up the immune system to attack tumors.

Ipilimumab or Yervoy from Bristol-Myers is the first of the checkpoint modulators and already has been approved for treating advanced melanoma. Researchers are hoping to add more weapons to their arsenal of drugs known as immunotherapy.

This class of drugs works by eliminating a natural brake existent in immune system cells. However, experts in the field said the experimental drug, at least thus far, appears to not be as toxic and have a better response rate than the first drug, Yervoy.

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