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BMY's nivolumab & MRK's MK-3475 for melanoma

These two biologics disrupt the same immune-initiated apoptosis-inhibiting mechanism that contributes significantly to metastatic melanoma's resistance to treatment. One targets the receptor PD1, and the other targets its ligand PDL1.

It's important to realize that the potential goes well beyond metastatic melanoma. Although melanoma is currently showing the most dramatic results and so is getting the big press, two other treatment refractory cancers are also showing exciting results in clinical trials -- metastatic renal cell carcinoma and non-small cell lung cancer. Other advanced treatment-refractory cancers that are also in trials now include pancreatic cancer, small-cell lung cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, and stomach cancer.

This comment from a meeting in May 2013 expresses the general view: "This class of drugs is probably the most exciting thing in oncology, based on unprecedented results across several tumor types."

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