June 3, 2009

Study points to effective melanoma drugs

An early-stage clinical trial of a new cancer drug could lead to the creation of effective melanoma drugs, researchers at a meeting in Orlando, Fla.,said.

The Wall Street Journal said Wednesday the study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting showed a drug called PLX4032 was effectively used to shrink tumors in nine of 16 study patients.

All of the patients used in the study had malignant skin cancer but the drug treatment was only effective in those patients whose tumors featured a gene mutation related to the protein BRAF.

The study was sponsored by Plexxikon Inc., which is developing the BRAF inhibitor drug in conjunction with the Swiss pharmaceutical group, Roche Holding AG.

The Wall Street Journal said while the study's results may lead to an effective treatment for advanced melanoma, at least one expert urged caution in regards to false hope.

One of the big questions going forward is, do the effects last long enough to have a meaningful impact on survival? David F. McDermott, the clinical director of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's biologic therapy program, said.