April 04, 2011
New Melanoma Drugs Raise Hopes, But More Choices Needed
BY Scott Merville
After years of failure in the treatment of advanced melanoma, two new drugs have emerged that help patients with one of the most deadly and difficult-to-treat cancers.
The experimental drug PLX4032 targets a specific genetic mutation found in the tumors of about half of all patients. Ipilimumab, an antibody that stimulates an immune system attack on melanoma, recently was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of the disease.
It's an optimistic time, says Michael Davies, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor in MD Anderson's Department of Melanoma, as scientific findings translate into new treatments. However, the new drugs don't help everyone and melanoma eventually resists them, often in less than a year's time.
Development of new drugs is crucial, Davies notes. Today, he chairs a seminar titled Novel Targets in Melanoma Research, which brings leaders in the field together to share new approaches at the American Association for Cancer Research 102nd Annual meeting. In video interviews, Davies discussed progress against melanoma and what still needs to be done.