Small Test Shows Treatment’s Potential to Stop
Spread of Melanoma Cancer
Treatment uses drug believed capable of stimulating a
patient’s immune system into attacking cancer cells while sparing
healthy normal tissue
Nov. 16, 2012 – Most senior citizens know that
melanoma is the most deadly skin cancer, if it is not caught early and
surgically removed. When it is not detected early and begins to spread
it can move very rapidly to other parts of the body, and becomes very
difficult to stop. New hope, however, for stopping this cancer was
reported recently at an international meeting.
These study findings by a San Diego-based company,
OncoSec Medical Inc., while very preliminary, indicate a potential role
for OncoSec’s treatment as a safe and effective option for treating
melanoma, the company says in a news release.
“Further results from the study will strengthen our
understanding of the long-term effects of the treatment, perhaps leading
to a new era for those with melanoma,” the company said.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer.
While not the most common skin cancer, melanoma
does cause the most fatalities, and most of these are older people. The
average age of diagnosis is 61. The American Cancer Society estimates that
about 123,000 new cases of melanoma in the US are diagnosed every year,
resulting in approximately 10,000 deaths.
If recognized and treated early, it is almost
always curable, but if not, the cancer can advance and spread to other
parts of the body - in a process called metastasis - where it becomes hard
to treat and potentially fatal.
Currently, there are few treatment options for
patients with late-stage metastatic disease that can extend survival.
OncoSec Medical is among those who are looking at
novel approaches. At the 6th World Meeting of Interdisciplinary
Melanoma/Skin Care Centres & 8th EADO Congress the company announced the
“positive results” from an ongoing trial investigating its own
proprietary treatment in metastatic melanoma patients.
OncoSec’s treatment, known as ImmunoPulse, hinges
on two simple facts:
First, when a
small, localized electric current is administered in the vicinity of a
tumor - a process called electroporation - tiny holes or 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 effective doses much lower than normal. OncoSec has chosen to
use a specific drug in tandem with its treatment - DNA IL-12 - which is
believed capable of stimulating a patient’s immune system into attacking
cancer cells while sparing healthy normal tissue.
At the time of the new preliminary interim
analysis, 13 subjects were evaluable on the 39th day, nine on the 90th
day and two on the 180th day. Each patient was treated with DNA IL-12
and underwent electroporation.
The results, according to the company, were the
By the 39th day, 95 percent of treated lesions
showed some response to the treatment; as measured on the 90th day and
again on the 180th day, all treated lesions showed some response to the
Analysis of the safety data for the patients
appeared to confirm that the use of DNA IL-12 with electroporation is
safe and well-tolerated.
Furthermore, the analysis provided evidence of a
distant lesion response, which is the intent of this type of
Specifically, the two patients evaluated at 180
days have shown what researchers call “stable disease” (meaning their
cancer is neither decreasing nor increasing) and “complete response”
(the disappearance of all outward signs of cancer, aka complete
Links to More Archived Stories on Melanoma
Melanoma is a form of cancer that
begins in melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin). It may begin in a mole (skin melanoma), but can also begin in other
pigmented tissues, such as in the eye or in the intestines.
It is estimated that 76,250 men and women (44,250 men and 32,000 women) will be diagnosed with and 9,180 men
and women will die of melanoma of the skin in 2012.
From 2005-2009, the median age at diagnosis for melanoma of the skin was 61 years of age.
Approximately 0.6% were diagnosed under age 20; 6.8% between 20 and 34; 10.7% between 35 and 44; 18.2%
between 45 and 54; 21.6% between 55 and 64; 18.8% between 65 and 74; 16.7% between 75 and 84; and 6.6% 85+ years of age.
The age-adjusted incidence rate was 21.0 per 100,000 men and women per year.
From 2005-2009, the median age at death for melanoma of the skin was 68 years of age. Approximately 0.1% died
under age 20; 2.6% between 20 and 34; 5.6% between 35 and 44; 13.5% between 45 and 54; 19.9% between 55 and 64; 21.2% between 65
and 74; 24.1% between 75 and 84; and 12.9% 85+ years of age.
The age-adjusted death rate was 2.7 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are based on patients who
died in 2005-2009 in the US.
Based on rates from 2007-2009, 1.99% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin
at some time during their lifetime. This number can also be expressed as 1 in 50 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma of
the skin during their lifetime. These statistics are called the
lifetime risk of developing cancer.
Sometimes it is more useful to look at the
probability of developing melanoma of the skin between two age groups. For example,
0.99% of men will develop melanoma of the skin between their 50th and 70th birthdays compared to 0.60% for women
On January 1, 2009, in the United States there were approximately 876,344 men and women alive who had a
history of melanoma of the skin - 427,810 men and 448,534 women.
Couples encouraged to examine each other for
suspicious moles that could be skin cancer. Researchers estimate that 40
– 50% of people in the U.S. who live to age 65 will have nonmelanoma
skin cancer at least once.