In an international phase I clinical trial reported in The Lancet, an experimental drug targeting a common mutation in melanoma shrank tumors that spread to the brain in nine out of 10 patients.
The drug dabrafenib, which targets the Val600 BRAF mutation active in half of melanoma cases, also cut tumor size in 25 of 36 patients with late-stage melanoma that had not spread to the brain. In four cases, the brain metastases disappeared.
"No other systemic therapy has ever demonstrated this much activity against melanoma brain metastases," says study co-lead author Gerald Falchook, M.D., assistant professor in MD Anderson's Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics.
GlaxoSmithKline sponsored and funded the clinical trial. Phase II and phase III trials of dabrafenib for melanoma under way.