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Immunotherapy was the first treatment to extend survival in patients with advanced melanoma.

Once melanoma has spread to other organs, there isn’t—or rather, wasn’t—much that doctors could do to help patients. Then came James P. Allison, Ph.D., and his breakthrough work on the immune checkpoint CTLA-4. Dr. Allison’s discoveries led to the development of ipilimumab, an anti-CTLA-4 checkpoint immunotherapy, which was the first treatment of any type that demonstrated the ability to provide a survival benefit for patients with metastatic melanoma in a randomized clinical trial. (You can learn more about how checkpoint immunotherapies work here.)

Since ipilimumab’s FDA approval in 2011, several other immunotherapies have been approved for melanoma patients, including anti-PD-1 checkpoint immunotherapies such as pembrolizumab and nivolumab as well as the oncolytic virus T-Vec. The FDA has also approved the checkpoint immunotherapy combination of ipilimumab and nivolumab for melanoma patients.

After receiving that combination immunotherapy in a clinical trial, Luc V. (pictured) has been able experience and enjoy more time with his family. (You can read Luc’s whole immunotherapy story in our ImmunoCommunity.)

Below are the many CRI-funded scientists who are investigating how to further improve immunotherapy’s benefits for melanoma patients:

Image credit: Cancer Research Institute

*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.