The purpose of the study is to test the safety of two drugs called MDX-1106 (BMS-936558 or nivolumab, which is investigational) and ipilimumab in patients with stage III or IV malignant melanoma. Both drugs are antibodies which bind to cells involved in the immune system.
The antibodies in this study bind to substances on the cell which control different parts of the immune system by shutting it down. Researchers believe that one way cancers can escape the immune system could be through this shut-down mechanism.
Both drugs have been assessed alone and are being evaluated when given together in patients with melanoma that is resistant to or has come back following other treatments. Laboratory research has shown that MDX-1106 and ipilimumab given together may work better than each one alone, and may kill melanoma cells or cause them to slow down or to stop growing completely.