Immunotherapy is a mainstay of cancer treatment, helping the body use its own immune response to attack tumours. Thus far immunotherapy drugs have been used successfully in only some cancer types, such as cutaneous melanoma and lung cancer. These drugs (including checkpoint inhibitors) are less effective in patients whose tumour has fewer immune cells (particularly T cells) and lower mutational burden. This is thought to make it harder for the immune system to ‘see’ and target the tumour.
Metastatic uveal melanoma is one such type of cancer for which this is thought to be a problem, making it one of the deadliest cancers. However, a publication based on a collaboration between the University of Oxford and Immunocore has found that an investigational agent, tebentafusp, designed as a first-in-class bispecific fusion protein, shows the potential to treat both metastatic cutaneous melanoma (mCM, a skin cancer) and metastatic uveal melanoma (mUM, an eye cancer).