Blood cancer breakthrough: New immunotherapy Treatment Nivolumab Approved for use
BREAKTHROUGH immunotherapy treatment nivolumab has been approved for use to combat a rare and aggressive blood cancer.
The green light from the European Commission comes as new data showed almost 95 per cent of Hodgkin lymphoma patients using the therapy were still alive after a year.
Hodgkin lymphoma is a terminal condition with few treatment options.
It develops in the lymphatic system – a network of vessels and glands that form a crucial part of the immune system.
Over the past decade incidence rates have increased by 20 per cent in the UK with 2,000 people diagnosed in 2013.
The cancer can develop at any age but mainly affects young adults in their early 20s and those over the age of 70.
Dr Graham Collins, a consultant haematologist at Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust, said: “This is a significant step forward for Hodgkin lymphoma patients.
“Historically, once a patient’s cancer progresses to this stage they are generally placed on palliative end-of-life care.
“The launch of nivolumab changes the treatment landscape, offering an innovative approach to treating this cancer.”
Nivolumab, developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, is one of the world’s first immunotherapy drugs.
It is already licensed under the brand name Opdivo for the treatment of adult patients with advanced melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer.
It works by harnessing the ability of the immune system to fight the deadly disease.
Jonathan Pearce of the Lymphoma Association, said: “It is vital innovative treatments are being developed and made available to lymphoma patients.
“We want everyone affected by lymphoma to receive the best possible treatment and care, and the more options there are to improve outcomes and quality of life for patients, the better.”
Benjamin Hickey, general manager, UK and Ireland, Bristol-Myers Squibb said: “We are delighted that nivolumab has been approved across Europe for the treatment of classical Hodgkin lymphoma.
“Patients with the potential to benefit are those who have failed standard therapies and have no alternative options.
“The approval comes at a time when pivotal new data presented at ASH are demonstrating the potential this treatment can offer to patients with this type of blood cancer.
“We are fully committed to working with reimbursement authorities to ensure that all eligible patients in the UK are able to benefit from this treatment as quickly as possible.”