(HealthDay News) — Patients with metastatic melanoma who have high serum levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) before treatment with ipilimumab have worse survival than patients with lower VEGF levels, according to a study published in the February issue of Cancer Immunology Research.

Jianda Yuan, M.D., Ph.D., from the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed serum levels of VEGF in 176 patients with metastatic melanoma before and after treatment with 3 or 10 mg/kg ipilimumab (which targets CTL antigen 4).

Using 43 pg/mL as the cutoff pretreatment VEGF value, the researchers observed clinical benefit at 24 weeks in 41.1 percent of patients below the cutoff but only 23.2 percent of patients at or above the cutoff. Median overall survival at 24 weeks was significantly lower in patients with VEGF at or above the cutoff (6.6 versus 12.9 months [similar results observed at both ipilimumab doses]; hazard ratio, 1.6). There was no association between changes in VEGF levels during treatment and clinical outcome.

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“Serum VEGF may be a predictive biomarker for ipilimumab treatment and is worthy of prospective investigation with various forms of immunologic checkpoint blockade,” Yuan and colleagues conclude.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to Bristol-Myers Squibb, which manufactures ipilimumab.

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