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A New Drug May Help With Melanoma

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The FDA recently approved (through its accelerated approval process) a new melanoma drug called Keytruda. Experts are enthusiastic about the potential of this and similar drugs in the pipeline.  

Cancer experts are calling a new melanoma drug one example of a whole new avenue of cancer treatments. They work by using the body's own immune system to battle the cancer cells. The new drug is called Keytruda. Dr. Evan Lipson of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine spoke with Sound Medicine to explain why this drug is getting so much buzz.

Interview highlights:

Lewis: The FDA approved the new drug Keytruda on sort of a fast-track basis even though five other Melanoma drugs have been approved since 2011. Did doctors not have enough good options available for treating this disease? 

Dr. Lipson: I would say that in oncology we very rarely have enough good options for treating these diseases. But in the case of melanoma, this has been a disease that for many years has been very challenging to treat. It's been in the last five years or so that we've really turned the corner in terms of our ability to apply new drugs with new mechanisms of action that have been particularly effective in ways that other drugs just are not against Melanoma.