A combination treatment of two immunotherapy drugs may prove an effective new weapon against advanced kidney cancer, results from a trial have shown.
Scientists found that 40% of patients treated with nivolumab and ipilimumab experienced a significant reduction in the size of their tumours.
In a tenth of these patients the cancer appeared to have vanished. There was no detectable sign of disease.
The CheckMate -016 study was an early Phase I trial chiefly designed to investigate doses and side effects.
Dr Hans Hammers, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in the US, said: "There remains a significant unmet need for treatment options that offer ongoing responses and increase survival for patients with renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer.
"The results from CheckMate -016 are encouraging, and warrant further study, as they show with nearly two years of follow-up, 40.4% of patients in each nivolumab plus ipilimumab combination arm responded to the regimen, with the majority of responses occurring early and within the first few months of treatment."
The findings were presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology cancer meeting in Copenhagen.
The same combination of drugs has already been approved for NHS patients with advanced melanoma skin cancer.
Each year in the UK around 11,900 people in the UK are diagnosed with kidney cancer and 4,400 die from the disease.