Six new drugs for Melanoma

Six new drugs for Melanoma

Since 2011, six new drugs have been FDA approved for the treatment of melanoma.

Three are targeted therapies: Zelboraf (vemurafenib), Tafinlar (dabrafenib), and Mekinist (trametinib). These drugs target common genetic mutations, such as the BRAF V600 mutation, found in a subgroup of melanoma patients, and also in patients with other cancers. It is important to understand that these drugs therefore may only work on perhaps 7% of people with the disease.

The three others are immunotherapy drugs: Yervoy (ipilimumab), Keytruda (pembrolizumab), and Opdivo (nivolumab).

These drugs are dubbed checkpoint inhibitors that take the brakes off the immune system and enable it to see and fight cancer.

For example, in 2010, ipilimumab became the first drug ever shown to extend survival for patients with metastatic melanoma in a large phase III trial. We have covered it before in Cancer Watch.

Ipilimumab reduced the risk of death by 32% and nearly doubled the likelihood of patients surviving to 1 and 2 years, with some patients experiencing complete and durable clinical regressions.

Based on these results, ipilimumab was approved by the FDA as first-line therapy for advanced melanoma in 2011.

Ipilimumab is a type of immune drug known as a checkpoint inhibitor. These treatments work by targeting molecules that serve as checks or blocks on the immune system stopping it doing its job.

Ed: Immunotherapies are clearly Complementary and Integrative Medicine at work and we are fully suportative of these developments. . We have always argued that the first job of any treatment programme was to reboot the immune system. It is a shame that cancer patients have had to wait 50 years for science to catch up. Although early days, in trials, some, when given with standard treatments, provide an increase in survival of about 30 months.


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