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FDA approves a novel drug to treat melanoma


Narrator:       This is Science Today. The FDA has approved an innovative new cancer drug called Yervoy for late stage melanoma patients. Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, played a key role in the success of the drug, which essentially works by releasing the brakes that keep the immune system from fighting cancer.

Krummel:      The simplest version of this is that you have a whole bunch of troops that are waiting there near the tumor. All those troops, the T cells, would like to make copies of themselves and go and actually kill but they're being blocked. So by removing this block, we're allowing those cells to divide and to get in there and essentially destroy the tumor.

Narrator:       Immunologist Matthew Krummel explains that, so far, Yervoy clinical trials on late stage melanoma patients have yielded promising results.

Krummel:      The remarkable thing is the way that it scored. It's a 25 percent survival rate in a population that typically is well below 10 percent survival.  There is data coming out fairly soon that suggests that this is quite effective in first line patients, as well.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.