A closely watched experimental drug has excited melanoma oncologists and patients with a 63% reduction in the relative risk of death from metastatic melanoma when compared with standard therapy in a phase III trial that had enrolled 675 newly diagnosed patients. Vemurafenib (better known as PLX4032) targets the BRAF V600E mutation found in 40%-60% of melanoma patients. It is only the second melanoma drug to extend the lives of melanoma patients in a randomized clinical study.
The first such agent, ipilimumab (Yervoy), was approved earlier this year, and the melanoma community expects the Food and Drug Administration will award an indication to vemurafenib based on the new data from the BRIM-3 trial. We talked with Dr. Paul Chapman — lead author of the BRIM-3 study — about vemurafenib. He also hypothesized how clinicians would decide which drug — vemurafenib (assuming approval) vs. ipilimumab to use for their patients.
To read more about the BRIM-3 study and the future of melanoma treatment, visit IMNGoncology.
For a while, melanoma has been a bit of a red-headed stepchild of oncology. While advances have improved survival in a number of cancers in recent years, little progress had been made in melanoma. At this year’s ASCO annual meeting, new melnoma treatments generated a lot of buzz.
These new drugs are exciting and important because of their activity — meaning that they have an impact and clinical benefit in patients with advanced melanoma.
Dr. Lynn Schuchter
Overall survival was 11.2 months in melanoma patients who received ipilimumab plus dacarbazine group and 9.1 months in the placebo plus dacarbazine group. The study was simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2011 June 5 ;doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1104621). Ipilimumab was approved earlier this year as a first-line monotherapy treatment at a dosage of 3 mg/kg.
In another plenary presentation at ASCO, there was a 63% reduction in risk of death with vemurafenib, compared with dacarbazine alone, in metastatic melanoma patients with BRAF mutations. Vemurafenib is an investigational oral drug that inhibits BRAF kinase.
The read more about the results of these drug trials, check out the story in Skin & Allergy News