Late-stage trials of two experimental skin cancer drugs from GlaxoSmithKline, each designed to block different pathways used by tumor cells, have found the drugs helped patients with fewer side effects than current chemotherapy. Both drugs, trametinib and dabrafenib, were tested in patients with a mutation in a gene known as BRAF. About half of all melanomas, the deadliest form of skin cancer, have the genetic aberration.
Cancer occurs through genetic changes in cells allowing tumor growth factor receptors which activate various pathways, including a protein known as MEK. It is believed that BRAF-mutated melanomas should be particularly dependent on MEK, which is needed to amplify the cancer's genetic signal. Roche's Zelboraf, or vemurafenib, is the only BRAF inhibitor currently approved for treating melanoma. Latest results from a pivotal trial of the Roche drug, presented at a meeting in Chicago of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, found that it improved survival by nearly four months.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald