New Combination Therapy for Renal Cell Carcinoma Gains European Approval

According to a story from BioPortfolio, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company recently announced that the European Commission has recently approved the first combination treatment for renal cell carcinoma available in the EU. This combination consists of ipilimumab (marketed as Yervoy) and nivolumab (marketed as Opdivo) for patients with intermediate and poor-risk advanced disease. 

About Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma is a cancer of the kidney that generally appears in the lining of the proximal convoluted tubule, a passage in the kidney that transports primary urine. Though generally considered rare, it is the most common type of kidney cancer to affect adults. There are several risk factors that an increase a person’s likelihood of getting renal cell carcinoma, such as smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure. Other risk factors include long term use of NSAIDs, hysterectomy, certain genetic disorders, family history, and cystic disease of the kidney. This cancer rarely produces symptoms in its early stages, but when it has reached an advanced stage, symptoms may include flank pain, a noticeable abdominal mass, bloody urine, fatigue, fever, night sweats, weight loss and appetite loss, hypertension, and elevated calcium levels. To learn more about renal cell carcinoma, click here.

The Need for Better Treatments

Renal cell carcinoma has very limited options for treatment when it reaches an advanced stage. The two year survival rate for patients with metastatic disease is less than 50 percent. This combination treatment should give these patients better chances at improving their survival while having less severe adverse effects compared to other treatment options.

In Phase 3 trials, ipilimumab and nivolumab were able to decrease a patient’s chance of dying by 37 percent when compared to the current standard of care, a drug called sunitinib. This combination also demonstrated superior response rates and a greater duration of response in comparison to sunitinib.

Along with the US, Europe has one of the highest rates of renal cell carcinoma in the world. With the approval of this combination, renal cell carcinoma patients with intermediate or poor risk disease that has reached an advanced stage will have a better chance of long term survival and improved quality of life measures.


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