Exciting data on new targeted treatments for melanoma expected at ASCO 2010.

28 May 2010

Probably the big story from the upcoming ASCO meeting is going to be about new targeted treatments for advanced melanoma. There are two sets of drugs which are giving promising results in the field of melanoma: 

molecules which specifically hit mutated molecular targets (PLX4032) immunomodulator drugs (Ipimimumab)


(PLX4032)  developed by a joint venture between  Plexxikon and Roche targets tumour cells harvesting the BRAF mutation. PLX4032 works by selectively inhibiting the cancer-causing BRAF mutation occurring in about 50 percent of melanomas, and is being developed in parallel with a companion diagnostic to identify patients carrying the mutation.


A Phase 2 “BRAFInhibitor in Melanoma” (BRIM2) trial in previously treated melanoma patients showed some tumor shrinkage in nearly all mutation-positive melanoma patients. Enrollment to this trial is ongoing and is enrolling patients in the U.S. and Australia. At ASCO this year we are expected to hear about the initiation of a randomized, controlled, Phase 3 (BRIM3) trial in previously untreated patients. This Phase 3 trial, with a primary endpoint of overall survival, will provide further assessment of the clinical benefit of PLX4032.


Within the second set of promising drugs, the immunomodulators,  such as the anti CTLA4 monoclonal antibodies Ipilimumab (Bristol-Myers Squibb) are looking very interesting in melanoma. Ipilimumab functioning by maintaining the immune response against the melanoma cell and ultimately leads to its destruction. There have been very good responses to this drug with regression periods of upto 4 years so far and 2-year survival rates of over 50%.


So this is good news for malignant melanoma and hopefully at least one of these promising agents will be available in the not too distant future, offering people suffering with the condition a glimmer of hope.  Lets see what the upcoming ASCO meeting has to say.