Two drugs combine to give hope to melanoma sufferers

There is a chance that those patients with advanced melanoma may live longer taking Ipilimumab and will have a much more likelihood of living longer by taking Vermurafenib than taking on chemotherapy, said scientists from the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Vermurafenib in a phase three trail was tested on over 670 patients all of them had advanced melanoma. In 84% of the cases that Vermurafenib was taken twice a day the patients were alive after six months compared to only 64% that had used the traditional chemotherapy. Additionally 48% of those that took Vemurafenib had the size of their tumours shrink.

Close to 50% of those with advanced melanoma have a faulty gene none as BRAF. Vemurafenib targets this gene. Those that were in charges of the study stopped it early due to be so impressed with the results and so that those taking chemotherapy could switch over to Vermurafenib.

The risk of the disease worsening was also reduced in those taking the drug by over 74%. The drug is being developed by Plexxikon, Inc. and Genetech (Roche). Dr. Paul Chapman from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre’s and the study leader says this is just the start of personalized medicine for melanoma.

Tumours are shrinking and with some of the patients their quality of life is improved dramatically. There are also trials that are determining if the drug may help with other types of cancer. The drug still faces tough approvals for both European use and use in the United States at a prescription level.