New Melanoma Drugs Trametinib and Dabrafenib Show Promise in Late Stage Trials
Two new drugs designed to fight metastatic melanoma are showing promising results in late stage trials, as presented just weeks ago at the Annual Meeting for the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Both drugs, trametinib and dabrafenib, are from GlaxoSmithKline and are designed to block the effect of the BRAF genetic mutation that occurs in cancer cells and triggers cancer growth.
About half of all melanoma cases are reported to have the BRAF mutation. The drugs also block a protein called MEK, which is thought to encourage the BRAF cell mutation.
During the study, trametinib kept cancer from advancing much longer than standard chemotherapy. Approximately 322 patients with advanced or metastatic melanoma were treated with either trametinib or chemotherapy. Patients given trametinib lived for an average of 4.8 months before the disease worsened, compared with 1.5 months for melanoma patients treated with chemotherapy. Patients taking trametinib also reported fewer side effects than those taking chemotherapy.
The other drug, dabrafenib, was tested against 345 chemotherapy patients with late stage melanoma. Researchers saw the melanoma growth stopped for 50 percent of patients, compared to only 6 percent of patients taking chemotherapy. At that rate researchers estimate that patients taking dabrafenib will have twice as much time before their cancer worsens as compared to patients taking chemotherapy.
Typically patients who are diagnosed with late stage melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are given a very short life expectancy. These new drugs could give hope for the treatment of this horrific disease.
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