A new drug to treat advanced melanoma has been granted “breakthrough therapy” approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration following trials conducted at The University of Arizona Cancer Center, considered a key test site.
Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is the first approved compound that blocks a protein known as PD-1, which restricts the body’s immune system from attacking melanoma cells. The drug was used with 17 patients at the Cancer Center, one of 23 test sites worldwide.
The skin cancer melanoma accounts for about 5 percent of all new cancers in the nation. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 76,100 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma and 9,710 will die from the disease this year.