Expert Talks Significance of Relatlimab/Nivolumab Approval for Metastatic Melanoma


Hussein A. Tawbi, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the phase 2/3 RELATIVITY-046 trial, highlights the importance of relatlimab/nivolumab’s recent FDA approval in melanoma.

The approval of relatlimab/nivolumab (Opdualag) is exciting because it represents a new immunotherapy combination for patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma, according to Hussein A. Tawbi, MD, PhD.

However, the newly approved agent will not replace PD-1/CTLA-4 combination immunotherapy, he explained. Rather, the 2 will now co-exist in the treatment landscape, providing oncology care teams multiple therapeutically relevant treatment options to offer their patients.

The fixed-dose PD-1/LAG-3 inhibition regimen was recently approved by the FDA on the indication of unresectable or metastatic melanoma for adults of at least 12 years of age and who weigh at least 40 kg. Notably, the approval was based off findings from the RELATIVITY-047 study, which demonstrated the combination doubled progression-free survival, compared with single-agent nivolumab.

Tawbi, a professor of the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and principal investigator in the RELATIVITY-046 trial, recently met with Oncology Nursing News® todiscuss what this approval means for patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

“It is a really important development for our patients,” he said. “We know that single agent PD-1 has been capable of curing almost 40% of our patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma. We really think that this [agent] will add a significant proportion of [successfully treated patients].”

“The one thing that we will always need to be very clear about is that this study did not compare the combination [of nivolumab/relatlimab] to the combination of PD-1/CTLA-4 inhibition,” noted Tawbi.

“There will be decision making in the first-line setting, [we will ask ourselves], ‘can I rely on nivolumab/relatlimab or do I give nivolumab/ipilimumab [Yervoy] despite the toxicity?’ From my perspective, that combination of nivolumab/relatlimab will replace single-agent PD-1 inhibitors.”

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