New skin-cancer combo wipes out 20% of tumors.

Another BBC story, this one about a family of immune-boosting drugs that eat away melanoma in a fifth of patients:

The first survival data on using ipilimumab and nivolumab in combination showed 69% of patients, in a trial on 142, were still alive after two years.

UK doctors leading the trial said the results were “very encouraging”.

Data from a separate melanoma study on Merck’s immunotherapy pembrolizumab also showed an increase in survival.

The drug also works by cutting the immune system’s brakes.

The results of an early stage trial, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed a third of patients lived for 12 months with no sign of the tumour growing.

Vicky Brown, 61 and from Cardiff, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma that had spread to her lungs and breast in April 2013.

She started the combination therapy later that year.

“It worked within a month. There were lumps I could actually feel and they disappeared quite quickly,” she told the BBC.

She did face severe side effects including an upset liver and inflamed bowels and a year later the cancer returned.

She is now on her second course of combination immunotherapy, which again seems to have shrunk the tumours.

By “cut the brakes,” by the way, the article means the drugs disable the things that keep your immune system from attacking your own cells (which is what cancer is). In other words, there are side effects and they can be severe. It’s still a pretty promising therapy.

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