Expert Point of View: Suzanne L. ­Topalian, MD

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Suzanne L. Topalian, MD

Press conference moderator Suzanne L. ­Topalian, MD, Director of the Melanoma Program at Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, said, “The approval of ipilimumab [Yervoy] as first-line therapy for advanced melanoma in 2011 was a landmark moment. This was the first drug ever to show a survival advantage in melanoma. It was also a landmark moment for immunotherapy and checkpoint blockade. Ipilimumab became the gold standard for treatment of advanced melanoma.”

She continued, “KEYNOTE-006 is the first demonstration that pembrolizumab [Keytruda] is superior to ipilimumab. We expect this study to change the treatment landscape for melanoma.”

Important areas of future research include combinations of immune therapies and optimal sequencing, she noted. ■

Disclosure: Dr. Topalian receives research grants from Bristol-Myers Squibb, and her spouse is a consultant for Merck.

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