For melanoma patients, one dose of immunotherapy before surgery can lead to remission

An Abramson Cancer Center study finds that with a single dose of a PD-1 inhibitor, immune responses can peak in just one week.

A single dose of a PD-1 inhibitor before surgery for melanoma can put patients in remission. Researchers from the Abramson Cancer Center, who documented this finding in the largest cohort of patients to be treated with anti-PD-1 drugs before surgery, also showed that immune responses brought on by this therapy can peak as early as seven days after treatment—much earlier than previous studies have shown.

A T cell expressing PD-1
A T cell expressing PD-1 (Image courtesy: Penn Medicine)

Patients in this study completed up to a year of anti-PD-1 therapy after surgery, and those with complete responses after the initial dose have remained cancer free for more than two years—the longest follow-up data to date for a trial evaluating this treatment approach for patients with melanoma. Further, researchers also identified patterns in the way melanoma that comes back after surgery adapts to develop resistance to PD-1 inhibitors, potentially paving the way for greater understanding of how best to help these patients. The findings appear in Nature Medicine.

“Knowing so much earlier whether or not patients are responding to PD-1 inhibitors may give us the ability to guide them to the most appropriate therapy with the greatest chance for success,” says the study’s lead author Alexander C. Huang, an instructor of hematology-oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine and a Parker Bridge Scholar through the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

Read more at Penn Medicine News.