Novel drug raises hope for patients with advanced melanoma

June 2nd, 2009 - 2:49 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 2 (ANI): A drug that can treat the most deadly form of skin cancer in its most advanced, incurable stages has been created by scientists.

According to early trial results, an experimental drug PLX4032 (R7204) could help many patients with malignant melanoma live longer with the disease in check.

The novel drug works by seeking out and destroying tumour cells carrying the BRAF mutation implicated in 60 percent malignant melanomas. This could not only help to shrink the skin cancer, but also delay its spread.

In a phase I study, which involved 16 patients with BRAF-positive melanoma, over half saw the extent of their cancer reduce by at least 30 percent, reports The BBC.

Patients treated with PLX4032 lived for a median of six months without their disease getting worse and more than half experienced significant shrinkage of their tumours.

Roche and its partner Plexxikon told delegates at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting that they are planning larger trials to further test the drug’s safety.

Dr Jodie Moffat of Cancer Research UK said: “While these results are interesting, they need to be followed up in much larger studies before we know if this is a suitable new treatment for people with advanced melanoma.

“Melanoma is difficult to treat when it is at an advanced stage so it’s crucial to find new treatments to help beat the disease.

“When melanoma is diagnosed early, treatment is often simpler and more likely to be effective. If you notice a change in the size, shape or colour of a mole or other patch of skin, make sure you get it checked out by your doctor without delay.

“Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation, from the sun or from sunbeds, is the leading cause of skin cancer.” (ANI)

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