New treatment on horizon offers hope for metastatic melanoma patients

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Treatment combining electroporation and the drug DNA IL-12 has yielded preliminary positive results in response to treatment and safety among patients with metastatic melanoma.

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Though it is almost always curable if recognized and treated early, once it metastasizes, the disease is hard to treat and potentially fatal. Melanoma is not the most common skin cancer, but it causes the most fatalities. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 123,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed in the United States each year, and 10,000 deaths result from melanoma yearly. Few treatment options to extend survival currently exist for patients with late-stage melanoma.

The ImmunoPulse treatment hinges on two facts. First, when electroporation, or a small, localized electric current, is administered in the vicinity of a tumor, pores temporarily open on the surface of the tumor's cancer cells. Second, during the interval when those pores are open, a drug can be absorbed by the cancer cells at much lower doses than usual. The drug DNA IL-12 was used in tandem with the electroporation. DNA IL-12 is believed to be capable of stimulating a patient's immune system into attacking cancer cells while sparing healthy normal tissue.

Each patient was treated with DNA IL-12 and underwent electroporation. When this new preliminary analysis was conducted, 13 subjects were evaluable on the 39th day, nine on the 90th day, and two on the 180th. By the 39th day, 95% of the treated lesions had some response to the treatment. When measured on the 90th day and again on the 180th day, all treated lesions had some response to the treatment.

Analysis of the safety data for the patients appeared to confirm that using DNA IL-12 with electroporation is safe and well-tolerated. Additionally, the analysis provided evidence of a distant lesion response, which is the intent of this type of immunotherapy treatment. Specifically, the two patients evaluated at 180 days had stable disease and complete response.

This research was announced by OncoSec Medical Inc. of San Diego at the 6th World Meeting of Interdisciplinary Melanoma/Skin Care Centres and 8th EADO Congress.
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