No operations or chemotherapy needed? Is that possible? The new drug Opdivo will soon make treatment of the advanced stage melanoma available for the patients all over the world!
Unfortunately, European countries face this kind of disease more frequently. Statistics leave much to be desired: lung cancer brings great fear, somewhat bigger than other cancers. Its basis lies in the violation of air circulation and transformation of the lung epithelium into a malignant tumor. At some stage the patient will feel the decrease of the respiratory organs activity and a rapid extinction of vital functions. To compensate the air exchange with the artificial solutions is impossible. Therefore, the main goal of the contemporary medicine is to prevent the disease at the onset in the initial stages.
Classic methods of cancer treatment such, as surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and a combined method give way to far more effective, namely targeted medicines (small molecules, which work locally on the certain areas). They include epithelial growth factor and angiogenesis inhibitors. If the earlier treatment of the non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) was certainly connected to the surgery, now the thing of the future is the targeted therapy.
The drug under the name Opdivo (Nivolumab) from Bristol-Myers Squibb is the most promising immunotherapeutic agent for the treatment of NSCLC. It is related to PD-1 inhibitors class. The drug was approved by FDA in 2014.
Nivolumab does not act like most cancer drugs. It influences the malignancy itself, and its ability to influence the cell-mediated immunity. Sometimes, cancer cells send a signal that interferes with the work of the immune system. Opdivo blocks this signal, helping to restore the immune system to enable it to fight the cancer. This way, the drug affects the tumor not directly but by stimulating the immune reaction. The molecules of the substance penetrate into the carcinogenic cells. Then Opdivo blocks PD-1 receptors, which reduce the activity of T-lymphocytes. As a result, increases resistance of the organism as the immune cells are produced more rapidly.
Opdivo is used in the following cases:
- for the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma, which is not amenable to surgery;
- for the treatment of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the lung;
- and, if the BRAF gene mutations are present.
Treatment with Nivolumab should be conducted under the supervision of a specialist, who administers the dosage and how many times a day the drug should be taken. Side effects form Opdivo as much as compared to other means for cancer treatments. These include fatigue, pain in the limbs, cough, constipation, nausea, decreased appetite. If they occur, your doctor may cancel drug treatment or change the dosage. However, it should be remembered that these symptoms occur only in 10-20% of patients who suffer from this disease.
Clinical studies have shown that the survival rate while using Opdivo increased significantly compared to chemotherapy. To determine its efficiency, the drug was tested in the United States. Excellent results were observed among the patients: a three-year survival rate of 41 % after treatment. Moreover, the effect of the drug lasts for a few more months after its use.
Opdivo was launched for sale in the UK in August 2015. However, the cancer market is much wider, so in the near future the decision on the European drug agency is expected, swell as the sale of the Nivolumab on the European markets.
Author: Dr. Nadezhda Ivanisova