New Promising Treatments Against Skin Cancer
The agents, known as Dabrafenib and Trametinib, are being developed by the British pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline, and were tested in clinical trials against standard chemotherapy treatments.
The trial on Trametinib included 322 people, of whom 214 took the experimental drug while the rest did standard chemotherapy, researchers said at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago.
More than 22 percent of those on Trametinib responded to treatment compared to eight percent in the chemo group.
The Trametinib group also experienced a median 4.8 month period in which the cancer did not advance, and saw their risk of dying from skin cancer diminish by 46 percent compared to the chemo group -- 81 percent were still alive after six months of treatment compared to 67 percent in the control group.
The phase III trial was the first to evaluate a treatment against melanoma that inhibits a protein known as MEK, and may help about half of all melanoma patients who have a mutation in the BRAF gene that fuels tumor growth.
"This is the first in a new class of targeted drugs that could benefit patients with melanoma who have BRAF mutations," said Caroline Robert, head of Dermatology at the Institute Gustave Roussy in Paris, France.
"The findings show that targeting the MEK molecular pathway is a viable strategy for treating many people with the disease," Robert added.
"Trametinib is likely to become another first-line treatment option for patients with advanced melanoma."