Why a melanoma survivor chose an immunotherapy clinical trial

In the middle of 2014, Daron Gribble received some unexpected news: a persistent sore spot under his right cheekbone had tested positive for nodular melanoma. When his local dermatologist urged him to find an oncologist, he knew exactly where to turn. Daron’s sister, a nurse in the Houston area, referred him to her close friend, Randal Weber, M.D., chair of Head and Neck Surgery at MD Anderson. “Dr. Weber’s compassion reassured me that I was in good hands,” Daron says. “He came up with a plan and laid out the options for me. Soon thereafter, Weber performed surgery to remove all traces of malignant tissue from Daron’s jaw, devised a strategy to monitor for recurrence and sent Daron back to his busy life in north Texas. Immunotherapy clinical trial provides hope Unfortunately, a routine CT scan in late 2015 showed the melanoma had come back and spread to his right lung. Weber presented Daron with three options: chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, or an immunotherapy clinical trial involving inhibitors of IDO-1 and PD-L1. Driven by a strong desire to keep his oilfield services business running and to be present for his family, Daron opted for the clinical trial. “I chose immunotherapy for one main reason: I knew I would recover quickly after each treatment, and the quality of life would allow me to work,” he says. Daron’s care was coordinated by Hussein Tawbi, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Melanoma Medical Oncology, and Aung Naing, M.D., associate professor of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics. He began the first of 24 intravenous treatments in February 2016, and was able to continue working with the...