Melanoma study: are two therapies better than one?

The incidence of melanoma is increasing faster than other skin cancers. Although surgery can cure early stage melanomas, and many new standard therapies for advanced disease improve survival, few are cured. Innovation is needed to cure more patients. Providence Cancer Institute is one of 13 centers in the world, and one of four centers in the United States, to offer a new phase II study combining oncolytic viral therapy and checkpoint immunotherapy for advanced melanoma. 

The randomized study will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of pembrolizumab given alone or in combination with coxsackievirus A21, an oncolytic enterovirus administered intratumorally or intraveneously, in patients with advanced or metastatic melanoma who have not received a PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor. 

View the study here: 

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is an FDA-approved PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor shown to improve survival in patients with metastatic melanoma. Coxsackievirus A21 (V937), also known as CVA21, is a novel, nongenetically-modified form of a common cold virus. When administered, CVA21 targets and binds to protein called ICAM-1, which is overexpressed on the surfaces of many cancer cells, including melanoma. After binding, CVA21 enters the melanoma cell, replicates and causes the melanoma cell to burst, releasing proteins that can help to broaden an immune response 

Brendan Curti, M.D., medical oncologist and director of Providence Melanoma Program and Genitourinary Oncology Research, is a principal investigator of the study. The purpose of the study is to determine whether the combination of pembrolizumab and CVA21 is more effective than pembrolizumab alone for treating melanoma that has spread or is unable to be removed by surgery.  

Prior studies of CVA21 led by Dr. Curti and colleagues showed promising antitumor activity in patients with advanced melanoma and patients with advanced lung or bladder cancers when combined with checkpoint immunotherapies. 

For more information or to refer patients to this study, please call our Clinical Research office at 503-215-2614 or submit a referral form. 

More skin cancer studies 

The melanoma study is among 10 clinical trials open at Providence Cancer Institute for patients with skin cancer. See all skin cancer studies 

New research studies are added frequently. Please visit our website to see all studies in all cancer types at Providence Cancer Institute. 

Leaders in melanoma research and treatment 

Providence Cancer Institute has been an international leader in melanoma research and treatment for more than 25 years. Some highlights of our program and contributions include: 

  • Providence Cancer Institute researchers led the international study leading to FDA approval of ipilimumab (Yervoy), the first immunotherapy to show a survival benefit in advanced melanoma.  

  • Providence also participated in clinical trials leading to FDA approval of nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda), which offer improved response and survival benefits as second- or third-line therapies for patients with metastatic melanoma.  

  • Providence is one of the top five high-dose Interleukin-2 (IL-2) centers in the country and is an innovator in the use of IL-2 in conjunction with high-dose per fraction radiation and the clinical development of engineered cytokines 

  • Providence is one of the few centers developing adoptive cell transfer including tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) and engineered T cell therapy in combination with IL-2 for patients with melanoma and other solid tumors 

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