News from Illinois CancerCare

First Patient in Nation Enrolled in Clinical Trial for Treatment of Metastatic Melanoma

Peoria, IL July 20, 2016 – Illinois CancerCare today announced enrollment of the first patient in the nation to a clinical trial that is studying a novel therapy for unresectable or metastatic melanoma. This trial is designed to assess the efficacy, safety, and tolerability when combining pembrolizumab, which strengthens the immune system to help fight the cancer cells, with epacadostat, a highly effective drug that reverses immune suppression and restores the immune system’s ability to recognize the cancer cells. Pembrolizumab has been highly publicized as the drug that former President Jimmy Carter received to treat his metastatic melanoma.

“Our research is critical to advancing the field of metastatic melanoma management,” states Madhuri Bajaj, MD, Physician Director of Clinical Trials Research at Illinois CancerCare, Melanoma Specialist, and Principal Investigator for this clinical trial. “Significant advances have been made in the treatment of patients with metastatic melanoma in the last 5 years, but we need to continue to progress in our understanding of how to effectively and safely prolong survival in this extremely challenging type of cancer. ”

The specific study is:

  • MK 3475-252 – A Phase 3 Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Pembrolizumab (MK-3475) in Combination With Epacadostat or Placebo in Subjects with Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma

Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, strikes adults of all ages and accounts for approximately five percent of all new cases of cancer in the United States each year. The number of new cases of melanoma continues to rise by almost three percent each year which translates to 76,000 new cases yearly in the U.S. alone. The 5-year survival rate for late-stage or metastatic disease is 15 percent.