Due to new technologies, rearrangement of genes in cells can be discovered which result in two normally separate genes being brought together (a fusion), which can cause abnormalities in control of cell growth leading to development of solid tumor cancers. Fusions of a family of normal genes called NTRK have been found to cause normal cells to become cancerous and can happen in cells of both adults and children. Many different solid tumor cancers have NTRK fusions. Blocking the activity of these fusions with an oral drug called larotrectinib can be a new method of cancer treatment.
Nivolumab is a drug that works by improving the activity of T-cells (a type of white blood cells) and thereby increasing the ability of the immune system to kill cancer cells. Ipilimumab is another drug that works in a different way to also increase the activity of T-cells. Both drugs are given by injection into the veins. It is thought these drugs when used together may be more effective than each drug on its own. If licenced, nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab will offer additional treatment option to prolong the lives of people with head and neck cancers.