UI clinician spearheading promising melanoma immunotherapy treatment

Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher Yousef Zakharia, MD, has presented promising data at a national meeting about combining a new investigational immunotherapy drug with an FDA-approved immunotherapy drug to treat patients with advanced melanoma.

The two drugs, indoximod and pembrolizumab, are both immunotherapy treatments which help activate the patient’s immune system to better fight cancer. Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is an FDA-approved treatment for patients with advanced melanoma. In phase 3 clinical trial, this drug on its own produced partial or complete shrinking of tumors in 33 percent of patients involved in the trial.

“We set out to investigate whether we could improve upon this response rate by adding an inhibitor of the IDO pathway to pembrolizumab treatment,” says Zakharia, clinical assistant professor of internal medicine with University of Iowa Health Care.

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