Expert Point of View: Louis Weiner, MD


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Louis Weiner, MD

We are in the middle of a revolution, with the incredible advances we are seeing in melanoma. Immunotherapy won’t cure everyone with cancer, but we can cure some patients.

—Louis Weiner, MD

In the past 10 years, we have begun to unlock the keys to the puzzle of the body’s immune system. The study presented here drives home the important point that we can elicit immune responses with unusual durability,” said Louis Weiner, MD, Director of the Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, DC, and moderator of a press conference where these data were discussed.

“When I finished my training and started as a junior faculty member, melanoma was a cancer that gave cancer a bad name. Now we have treatments for melanoma that yield durable responses. This [treatment with immunotherapy] is truly revolutionary,” he continued.

Remaining questions to be addressed include the optimal duration of combination therapy, the optimal number of treatments, and the optimal dose and duration of maintenance therapy. “These are important questions, especially with this combination,” Dr. Weiner added.

Other combinations of immunotherapies are being studied in melanoma, including ipilimumab and pembrolizumab, another anti–PD-1 antibody.

“The combination is not approved yet. We need more data and longer follow-up. Since biomarkers have not yet panned out [for patient selection], this necessitates a discussion with patients about benefits and toxicities. The best we can do today is to have these discussions. We await more data and phase III studies on the combinations,” Dr. Weiner stated.

“We are in the middle of a revolution, with the incredible advances we are seeing in melanoma. It’s not just this one disease; we are seeing broad utility of immunotherapy approaches that promise to change the way we treat melanoma and other cancers, including kidney, bladder, Hodgkin lymphoma, and non–small cell lung cancers. Immunotherapy won’t cure everyone with cancer, but we can cure some patients. This is a powerful inflection point,” Dr. Weiner said. ■

Disclosure: Dr. Weiner reported no potential conflicts of interest.

 


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