Double Strikes Against Melanoma

New study finds melanoma responds well to two targeted therapies

(RxWiki News) Right now, there are not a lot of effective treatments of melanoma, an advanced and usually deadly form of skin cancer. However, an ongoing study shows exciting progress.

Attacking cancer cells with two types of "targeted therapies" shows promise in safely slowing or stopping the growth of melanoma. The therapies help treat melanoma when used alone. This study is looking at the safety and effectiveness of combining the therapies.

"Two targeted therapies show promise in treating melanoma."

Targeted therapies attack what is believed to be keeping cancer cells alive and growing. Targets of the therapies may include genes or proteins in the tumor itself or the surrounding tissue.

For this study, the two therapies being tested are currently being used to treat melanoma. Each of the therapies, when used separately, helps treat the skin cancer. This study looks at the safety and effectiveness of combining the therapies to treat patients with advanced melanoma.

The therapies target mutations or changes in two genes (MEK and BRAF) that are known to drive melanoma growth.

This is a three-part study in which 45 patients received the combination therapies in various doses.

In the first two phases, 81 percent of the patients saw improvement. Their tumors have stopped growing, grown more slowly or shrunk.

Lead author, Jeffrey Infante, MD, Director of Drug Development at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville, Tennessee, says the ongoing study will help to make sure that melanoma patients receive the treatment that works best for them individually.

The two drugs do not cause more side effects; in fact patients receiving the combination therapy had fewer side effects than those recieiving the drugs separately.

The third part of the study will involve 50 patients with stage IV (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) melanoma. These patients will not have received chemotherapy.

Infante adds researchers are also hoping the study finds that the benefits of the combined therapies last longer than those of the single drugs.

Review Date: 
June 5, 2011