(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, MD, PhD, 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% of patients below the cutoff but only 23.2% 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 vs. 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.

“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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