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Tremelimumab Shows Promise in Treatment of Liver Cancer

April 2, 2012
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  • Tumor burden reduction and disease stabilization occurred in some cases.
  • Tremelimumab also reduced blood levels of hepatitis C virus.

CHICAGO — Tremelimumab treatment stabilized patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma due to chronic hepatitis C infection for more than 12 months, according to data presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012, held here March 31 – April 4.

Researchers evaluated 21 patients treated with tremelimumab intravenously at a dose of 15 mg/kg every 90 days for about two cycles. Tumor burden was reduced for two patients, and disease stabilized for more than a year in 11 patients.

“The unique conditions [of heptaocellular carcinoma and hepatitis C infection] permitted us to monitor the antitumor effects and immune response to well-defined viral antigens, killing two birds with one stone,” said lead researcher Ignacio Melero, M.D., Ph.D., a consultant in the department of oncology and a professor and senior investigator in El Centro de Investigación Médica Aplicada at Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

In an intention-to-treat analysis, researchers observed a median overall survival of 7.5 months and time to progression of 6.4 months. They reported treatment-related adverse events among 80 percent of patients; grade 3 or higher adverse events included one case of pruritus, one case of purpura and five cases of elevated transaminases.

Melero and colleagues also observed a reduction of hepatitis C virus in the patients’ blood, which was also accompanied with objective enhancements of antiviral immunity.

“The short series of patients already showing clinical activity offers clear signs for the need to extend these trials,” Melero said. “It is unusual to spot clear signs of clinical activity with such a small number of patients, and the information on antiviral activity is also very promising.”

The study was supported by Pfizer, and tremelimumab has been licensed by MedImmune. Melero is a consultant for Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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About the AACR

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR’s membership includes 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 18,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes seven peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of individual and team science grants in cancer research that have the potential for patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policy makers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer.  

For more information about the AACR, visit

Media Contact:
Jeremy Moore
(215) 446-7109
In Chicago, March 31 – April 4:
(312) 528-8206

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