Inctye, Merck trial shows promising results from drug combo treating advanced melanoma

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Incyte Corporation and Merck announced promising data from trials of a drug combination used to treat advanced melanoma (skin cancer).

Keytruda, a drug from Merck and Incyte’s epacadostat were used in the studies.

Among all patients with advanced melanoma, data showed an overall response rate of 56 percent in patients treated with the combination of epacadostat and Keytruda as well as a median progression-free survival of 12.4 months, with rates of 65 percent at six months, 52 percent at 12 months, and 49 percent at 18 months.

“The updated results of the ECHO-202 trial support earlier published findings, and continue to suggest that the novel immunotherapy combination of epacadostat plus Keytruda has the potential to offer a favorable efficacy and safety profile for the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma,” said Omid Hamid, M.D., chief of Translational Research and Immuno-Oncology and Director of Melanoma Therapeutics, The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute, Los Angeles. “Data have shown that combination immunotherapy can offer higher response rates and improved progression-free survival. These results show that this combination has demonstrated increased and durable response rates and improved progression-free survival, compared to what we would expect from Keytruda alone, without sacrificing safety.”

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Epacadostat has been drawing attention in drug circles for its potential in treating cancer, with early stage trials drawing attention from the pharma community.

It is one reason for the high stock value of Incyte, which is based near Wilmington.

Keytruda is a powerful and heavily advertised drug that is being used to treat advanced melanoma and some types of advanced lung and neck cancers. Trials are under way on the drug extending the lives of people with other types of cancer and the effects of drug combinations.

Keytruda gained notice a couple of years ago when it was used to treat former President Jimmy Carter’s, who was suffering from melanoma that had spread to other parts of his body.

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