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Existing Drug May Improve Melanoma Survival

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Immunotherapy, although it is a recognized treatment in the fight against melanoma, doesn’t always help. Could beta-blockers make this treatment more successful and improve patients’ prospects?

Immunotherapy is often the go-to therapy when melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer— has reached its most advanced stages, or when a person has recurrent forms of melanoma.

Immunotherapy works by changing the patients’ immune system and enabling it to better detect and attack malignant cells. It is seen by medical professionals as one of the newest and best forms of melanoma treatment.

But many people still do not benefit fully from immunotherapy. The research community is now hard at work trying to figure out the most effective combination of immunotherapies, as well as the best ways to avoid its side effects and maximize its benefits.

New research may bring us closer to such benefits. Scientists at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey — led by Dr. Todd Schell, a professor of microbiology and immunology — investigated the effect of combining beta-blockers with immunotherapies and found that the drugs boosted the impact of immunotherapy on advanced melanoma.

“Beta-blockers slow your heart rhythm, but they can also affect immune cells and improve immune function,” Dr. Schell explains.

MedicalNewsToday, excerpt posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com, Jan. 10, 2018