Melanoma Coverage from Every Angle

Is Combined Checkpoint Blockade Effective in Treating Uveal Melanoma?

By: Joshua Swore
Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A recent retrospective study suggests that combined checkpoint blockade may prove to be effective in the treatment of patients with metastatic uveal melanoma. Markus V. Heppt, MD, of Munich University Hospital, Germany, and colleagues focused on the CTLA-4 inhibitor ipilimumab and the PD-1 inhibitors nivolumab and pembrolizumab. The study, conducted by a research consortium in Germany, was published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer.

“Altogether, our study implies that combined checkpoint blockade represents the hitherto most effective treatment option available for metastatic uveal melanoma available in routine care outside of clinical trials,” the investigators.

The study took a retrospective multicenter approach for explorative analysis. A total of 64 patients from 16 German skin cancer centers were included in the study. All patients were diagnosed with stage IV uveal melanoma from 2018 to 2019 and received treatments of ipilimumab plus a PD-1 inhibitor in any treatment line, with a follow-up of at least 3 months.

The authors reported an overall response rate of 15.6% to the combined checkpoint blockade. The median response duration was 25.5 months (range, 9–65 months). Two patients achieved a complete response and eight achieved a partial response. The median progression-free survival was 3 months, and the median overall survival was 16.1 months. Toxicity was reported in 60.9% of patients, with 78 total adverse events reported. A total of 47% of adverse events were graded as severe and were observed in 39% of reported cases.

The response rates reported in this study are comparatively higher than those found in previous studies using monotherapy to treat uveal melanoma, the investigators noted. Monotherapies of MEK inhibitors, ipilimumab, or PD-1 inhibitors, they continued, often result in response rates in the single digits. The authors acknowledged the importance of future trials to identify biomarkers for treatment response.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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