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ASCO conference: Bristol-Myers' Opdivo, Yervoy combo shrinks liver tumors

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ASCO conference: Bristol-Myers' Opdivo, Yervoy combo shrinks liver tumors

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The 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology takes place from May 31 to June 4.
Source: ASCO

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said a combination of its immuno-oncology treatments Opdivo and Yervoy showed in an early-stage clinical trial that almost a third of patients with the most common type of liver cancer responded to treatment.

Results from the phase 1/2 study called CheckMate -040 showed that after 28 months on the combination treatment, 31% of patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma who had been previously treated with Bayer AG's Nexavar showed a decrease in tumor size.

The company also found that the therapy continued to incur a response for 17.5 months. Bristol-Myers announced the results at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

In the study, patients were also split into groups receiving different doses of the drugs. Of those groups, more patients receiving a one-to-three ratio of Opdivo and Yervoy lived for 30 months.

"Hepatocellular carcinoma continues to represent a significant unmet need, as it is often diagnosed in the advanced stage where treatment options are limited and do not currently include the potential of an immuno-oncology combination," said Thomas Yau, a clinical associate professor in the University of Hong Kong Department of Medicine. "These results indicate the addition of Yervoy to Opdivo elicits promising clinical responses in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, reiterating the important potential impact of this combination research."

Bristol-Myers' Opdivo is an immunotherapy that spurs the immune system to attack cancer cells. It was approved in September 2017 — without Yervoy — to treat patients with hepatocellular carcinoma already treated with Nexavar.

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Opdivo is up against Merck & Co. Inc.'s Keytruda in the immuno-oncology space. Keytruda is approved in the U.S. for 19 indications, whereas Opdivo is approved for 13.

Keytruda received approval in late 2018 to treat patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who had received Nexavar.

The 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting is expected to bring together more than 32,000 professionals from around the world, with more than 2,400 study abstracts to be presented on site and an additional 3,200 abstracts to be published online.