Nivolumab is in development for the treatment of platinum-resistant, advanced or recurrent ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women. The symptoms of the disease are vague, including loss of appetite and tummy pain. This can mean that the cancer is often diagnosed when the disease is advanced and more difficult to treat. Most patients have the cancer removed by surgery and also receive chemotherapy, which usually includes platinum-based drugs. However, ovarian cancer often recurs and the platinum-based chemotherapy drugs may be less effective at treating this recurrence. If the cancer recurs within 6 months of the previous treatment, and platinum-based chemotherapy does not work, the disease is called ‘platinum resistant’.
Nivolumab works by improving the activity of white blood cells increasing the ability of the immune system to kill cancer cells. Currently patients with platinum resistant or recurrent ovarian cancer have few treatment options and if licensed, nivolumab could be an effective treatment option.
Pembrolizumab is an immunomodulatory medicinal product, meaning that it helps the immune system to recognise and attack cancer cells. It is administered by intravenous infusion and is currently licensed in the UK for melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer and urothelial cancer – amongst others. If licensed, pembrolizumab, in addition to chemotherapy, would offer an alternative treatment for those with advanced, recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer.