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Merck Wins U.S. Approval for Melanoma Immunotherapy

Merck & Co. won U.S. approval to bring to market the first in a new line of cancer-fighting treatments that use patients’ own immune systems against the disease.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared Keytruda, known chemically as pembrolizumab, to treat advanced melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, according to a statement today from the agency. The medicine is the first in an emerging class of drugs that target a protein called PD-1 to boost the immune system and fight cancer cells that manage to evade the body’s natural defenses. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Roche Holding AG and Novartis AG are among companies working on similar treatments.