FDA approves new immunotherapy to treat bladder cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted approval for a new immunotherapy treatment for advanced stages of the most common type of bladder cancer — urothelial carcinoma — the agency announced Wednesday.

The new treatment is called Tecentriq and uses the engineered antibody atezolizumab to reactivate the body's immune response to cancer.

"Our immune systems are designed to identify, target and destroy cancer cells. However, what cancer cells do is they preferentially co-opt off-switches to evade the immune system and basically run rampant and spread throughout the body," Arjun Balar, MD, an oncologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, told CBS News. Dr. Balar went on to say that the new therapy gives the body back control of these off switches.

The FDA has approved Tecentriq for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma whose disease has worsened during or after being treated with platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Tecentriq's safety and efficacy were determined in a clinical trial involving 310 bladder cancer patients. In the study, nearly 15 percent of patients treated with the immunotherapy displayed at least partial shrinkage of their tumors.

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