New drug shrinks brain tumours in melanoma patients

October 8, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Australian researchers have given hope to patients with advanced melanoma by showing that a new drug targeting a common mutation in melanoma successfully shrank tumours that had spread to the brain.

The study is the largest conducted on patients with and was led by researchers at the University of Sydney, Melanoma Institute Australia, Westmead Hospital and Westmead Institute for .

The results are published in The medical journal today.

"This is the largest evidence confirming that we have a systemic drug therapy that helps prolong survival in patients with multiple melanoma brain . The findings are among the most important in the history of drug treatment for melanoma," said lead author Dr Georgina Long, from Sydney Medical School, the Melanoma Institute Australia and Westmead Hospital.

Nearly half of all patients with advanced melanoma will develop - metastases - during the course of their disease. Until now, there have been very few effective treatment options.

The new drug called dabrafenib targets the V600E BRAF mutation that is active in half of melanoma cases. The drug is manufactured by which sponsored the study.

The latest findings build on the results of a smaller (Phase I) study published in May 2012 that revealed the drug the researchers had been testing to treat melanoma patients also had the ability to shrink secondary metastases in the brains of patients with advanced forms of the disease.

The Phase I trial showed brain metastases in nine of the 10 patients shrank within the first six weeks. All 10 patients survived beyond five months, two patients survived beyond 12 months. One patient was alive at 19 months.

The most recent (Phase II) trial divided patients into two groups - one group had never received prior treatment for brain metastases. The other had received prior treatment for brain metastases but they had since progressed (got worse).

The primary outcome of the study was the proportion of patients with the V600E BRAF mutation who responded to the drug and the researchers found that dabrafenib had activity in at least 30 percent of patients, with or without prior treatment.

Furthermore, in patients with the V600E BRAF mutation, intracranial disease control (one of the secondary outcomes) was achieved in 81 percent of patients who had no prior treatment for brain metastases and 89 percent of patients who had received prior treatment and progressed.

The researchers concluded that the drug may add months to the lives of patients whose melanoma has spread to the brain. Most patients with brain metastases don't survive past four months.

The study was a 172 patient Phase II multicentre open-label study at 24 hospitals across six countries.

Explore further: New drug shrinks brain tumours in melanoma patients

More information: www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … ltext#article_upsell

Related Stories

New drug shrinks brain tumours in melanoma patients

May 21, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Australian researchers have reported promising results with a new drug that shrinks brain tumours in melanoma patients. Their findings are published in The Lancet medical journal today.

Dabrafenib shrinks melanoma brain metastases in phase I clinical trial

May 17, 2012
An experimental drug targeting a common mutation in melanoma successfully shrank tumors that spread to the brain in nine out of 10 patients in part of an international phase I clinical trial report in the May 18 issue of ...

Ipilimumab active in advanced melanoma with brain mets

March 27, 2012
(HealthDay) -- For some patients with advanced melanoma and brain metastases, ipilimumab is active, according to the results of a phase 2 study published online March 27 in The Lancet Oncology.

New drug, Vemurafenib, doubles survival of metastatic melanoma patients

March 1, 2012
A report published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that the 50 percent of metastatic melanoma patients with a specific genetic mutation benefit from the drug Vemurafenib – increasing median survival ...

Research shows promising treatments against skin cancer

June 4, 2012
Two new experimental treatments against advanced melanoma have shown promise in keeping the deadly skin cancer at bay, according to research presented in the United States on Monday.

Recommended for you

CAR-T immunotherapy may help blood cancer patients who don't respond to standard treatments

October 20, 2017
Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is one of the first centers nationwide to offer a new immunotherapy that targets certain blood cancers. Newly approved ...

Researchers pinpoint causes for spike in breast cancer genetic testing

October 20, 2017
A sharp rise in the number of women seeking BRCA genetic testing to evaluate their risk of developing breast cancer was driven by multiple factors, including celebrity endorsement, according to researchers at the University ...

Study shows how nerves drive prostate cancer

October 19, 2017
In a study in today's issue of Science, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Montefiore Medicine, report that certain nerves sustain prostate cancer growth by triggering a switch that causes tumor vessels ...

Gene circuit switches on inside cancer cells, triggers immune attack

October 19, 2017
Researchers at MIT have developed a synthetic gene circuit that triggers the body's immune system to attack cancers when it detects signs of the disease.

One to 10 mutations are needed to drive cancer, scientists find

October 19, 2017
For the first time, scientists have provided unbiased estimates of the number of mutations needed for cancers to develop, in a study of more than 7,500 tumours across 29 cancer types. Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger ...

Researchers target undruggable cancers

October 19, 2017
A new approach to targeting key cancer-linked proteins, thought to be 'undruggable," has been discovered through an alliance between industry and academia.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.