Combination Immunotherapy May Further Increase Melanoma Survival Length

October 27, 2021 by Elisa Becze BA, ELS, Editor

Using two agents that target two different receptors more than doubles length of survival for advanced melanoma than a single agent alone, researchers reported ( at the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.

Researchers randomized 714 patients to receive either nivolumab plus relatlimab combination immunotherapy (intervention group) or nivolumab alone (control group). After a median of 13.2 months’ follow-up, the median progression-free survival was 10.1 months for the intervention group and 4.6 months in the control group.

Nivolumab is a PD-1–targeted checkpoint inhibitor currently approved for a variety of advanced cancers. It was one of several agents of its kind that helped revolutionize the treatment of advanced melanoma when it was approved for the indication in 2014, offering new therapy options for a cancer that had no new treatment approaches for years. Relatlimab targets the LAG-3 pathway that, when upregulated in melanoma, inhibits T-cell activity; it is currently under investigation in clinical trials.

In the current study, patients who received the combination treatment experienced more adverse events than those who received the single agent: 18.9% reported fatigue, rash, joint pain, and diarrhea, compared to 9.7% of patients treated with nivolumab alone. A total of 14.6% of patients in the intervention group and 6.7% in the control group stopped treatment because of adverse events. 

“For melanoma patients, this is wonderful news,” the researchers said ( “This study shows us that there is potentially a new combination immunotherapy approach on the horizon that may be as efficacious, but with less toxicity.” 

Find more information about checkpoint inhibitors and other immunotherapies in ONS’s Immuno-Oncology Learning Library (

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