Bristol melanoma drug extends survival in study


NEW YORK | Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:37pm EDT

(Reuters) - Bristol-Myers Squibb Co's eagerly anticipated experimental drug ipilimumab extended survival of previously untreated patients with advanced melanoma in a late stage study, the company said.

Details of how much longer patients who were suffering from the deadly skin cancer lived after taking the highly promising Bristol drug will be unveiled at a major medical meeting in June.

Bristol-Myers shares were up 4.3 percent at $27.10 in extended trading from their New York Stock Exchange close at $26. They initially jumped 5.7 percent after news of the clinical trial's success was reported.

Extending overall survival -- the primary goal of the study -- is considered the gold standard for cancer drug trials.

U.S. health regulators are expected to approve ipilimumab this week based on results of a different study of patients who had received prior treatment for advanced melanoma.  In that study the Bristol-Myers drug extended survival by an average of four months, which was seen as a major advance for a disease littered with drug failures and for which there are really no effective treatment options.

The Food and Drug Administration in November delayed its approval decision to give it more time to review data on the medicine, setting a new action date of March 26. "Ipilimumab is an exciting drug, especially given the dearth of effective therapies for this bad form of cancer," Sanford Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson said in a research note.Advanced melanoma is one of the deadliest cancers and can quickly spread from the skin to internal organs, such as the brain. Once melanoma spreads to other organs the average survival is typically only six to nine months.

Genome study brings blood cancer into sharp focus

Bio Technician demonstrates the loading of the high tech 454 Life Science sequencing machine in the sequencing laboratory at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, in this March 29, 2010 file photo.
Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCI TECH)
Multiple Myeloma Research FoundationImage via Wikipedia(Reuters) - 

CHICAGO | Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:17pm EDT
Scientists have mapped out the full genetic code of 38 people with multiple myeloma, uncovering never-before suspected genes that play a role in the blood cancer and showing that a promising new drug might help.

Studying the genetic blueprint of so many people with this cancer allows researchers to have a much more comprehensive picture of what drives the cancer, and it gives drug companies much better clues about how to shut down the disease.

"If we compare the tumor genome to the normal genome, that gives us great clues about what makes a normal cell into a cancer cell," said Todd Golub of the Broad Institute and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who helped lead the study published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.