Immunotherapy and Google Alerts

Keeping current on late-breaking immunotherapy using Google Alerts

Many people think chemotherapy is the only available treatment for melanoma and all cancers. Actually, we’ve come a long way from that. Many promising treatments are in immunotherapy – which makes use of the immune system to fight cancer.

Many of these meds, including Anti-PD-1 therapies, as well as other promising therapies such as T-VEC are still in clinical trials. In regard to melanoma, more than 300 clinical trials testing various immunotherapy treatments have been conducted, with well over 100 currently in progress.

Dealing with a late-stage cancer diagnosis?

Clinical Trials are often the best choice for late stage cancers, and quite often medical protocol calls for this as an option for treatment, however many oncologists often do not mention various clinical trials. Therefore, it’s recommended that patients and their caretakers become advocates for their own treatments to assist with this – so stay abreast of as much information as you can handle, and ask your oncologist. Only 2% – 3% of cancer patients who are eligible for clinical trials actually join these studies, which means a huge number of patients are missing out on possible life-saving treatment.

Current clinical trials for widespread metastatic melanoma, stage IV lung cancer and more

  • T-Vec (aka talimogene laherparepvec, formerly known as OncoVEX) is currently being evaluated to treat inoperable melanoma in a randomized phase III clinical trial, which will be completed in September 2014 (NCT00769704). T-Vec is also being tested in a phase I/II trial in combination with ipilimumab for patients with stage IIIB-IV melanoma who are not eligible for surgical resection. The trial is expected to begin enrolling patients shortly (NCT01740297).
  • POL-103A is a cancer vaccine currently in a phase III trial sponsored by Polynoma LLC. The trial plans to enroll 1,059 patients with resected stage IIB, IIC, or III melanoma with a high risk of recurrence. The principal investigator on the trial is Craig Slingluff Jr., M.D., a CRI investigator award recipient from 1996 to 2000 and a current member of CRI/Ludwig Cancer Vaccine Collaborative (CVC). (NCT01546571)
  • GlaxoSmithKline is testing its MAGE-A3 antigen-specific cancer immunotherapeutic (ASCI) (GSK2132231A) in a phase III trial involving 1,349 patients with stage IIIB or IIIC melanoma. The trial is designed to see whether treatment can help prevent or prolong melanoma recurrence after surgery. The trial is scheduled to be completed in October 2016 (NCT00796445).
  • Nivolumab (BMS-936558) is an antibody targeting the PD-1 checkpoint molecule. Based on promising results from a phase I clinical trial completed in 2012[1], the drug’s manufacturer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, has launched several phase III trials of the agent, including two in melanoma. One of the trials is enrolling patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma who have progressed following anti-CTLA-4 therapy (NCT01721746), and the second is for patients with previously untreated unresectable or metastatic melanoma (NCT01721772). Nivolumab is also being tested in two trials in combination with ipilimumab in patients with inoperable stage III or IV melanoma. The first is a phase I trial designed to identify the optimal doses of nivolumab and ipilimumab when administered concurrently (NCT01024231), and the second, a phase II trial that is scheduled to start in April 2013, is designed to test if giving the antibodies in a sequential fashion (ipilimumab before nivolumab, or vice versa) shows improved safety and/or efficacy (NCT01783938).

– See more at:

What is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is expected to offer longer-term protection against cancers, while creating fewer, and more tolerable side effects. These are two major advantages over chemotherapy.

There are many, many different studies going on worldwide, and several in the pipeline now, on their way to FDA approvals. Due to the processes involved in testing efficacy, dosages and acceptable side effects, we often don’t learn of such treatments until papers are publicly published on them enough to find them in search engines. (Scroll to the bottom to see how to get these updates delivered to your email inbox)

The infographic below, has been copied from the Cancer Research Institute and reproduced here in case the link changes in the future.


Use powerful tools to keep you posted, thanks to Google

Google offers very powerful tools to keep you informed about cancer research, the specific diseases you’re interested in, and much more. You will receive pertinent emails as often or as little as you wish, and can cancel at any time.  This is very important, since you are your greatest advocate. As much as they would like to, most oncologists often do not have the time to read about late-breaking research about every type of cancer – you, however can. Let them do their job, and you become as knowledgeable as possible to aid as necessary in the fight against this awful disease.

If you have a Gmail account, here’s where you will set up alerts:

If you have cancer or are a caretaker, be sure to go to Google and set alerts so you can receive all late-breaking news on the particular cancer you’re dealing with. Click here to see how to create your own, custom Google alerts to send to your email.

Don’t have a Gmail account? Here’s a step-by-step video from start to finish on how to get one, and set alerts

If you don’t have a Gmail email account and want Google alerts, here’s a step by step video which shows you how to do this.

Where to set up a new Gmail account

Begin by setting up a Gmail account (click here to set up a new, free Google account)

Forward Gmail email to your own email account

If you have a different email account,  you can forward ALL of these emails to your regular email. Here are instructions on how to do that.

Signing up for FDA alerts about approved meds

You can also sign up to receive immediate, daily or weekly updates about approved meds in oncology direct from the FDA by filling out this form on the FDA’s web site:



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