Bristol-Myers Squibb announced that Yervoy (ipilimumab injection) has been approved for the treatment of late stage (metastatic) melanoma. This approval was based on data from a study conducted in 676 patients with melanoma who had stopped responding to other FDA-approved or commonly used treatments for melanoma, and had disease that had spread or could not be surgically removed. Patients received Yervoy plus an experimental tumor vaccine called gp100, Yervoy alone, or the vaccine alone. Patients who received the combination of Yervoy plus the vaccine or Yervoy alone lived an average of about 10 months, while those who received only the experimental vaccine lived an average of 6.5 months.

Yervoy is a monoclonal antibody that blocks a molecule known as cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen (CTLA-4). CTLA-4 may play a role in slowing down or turning off the body’s immune system, affecting its ability to fight off cancerous cells. Yervoy may work by allowing the body’s immune system to recognize, target, and attack cells in melanoma tumors.

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