Dabrafenib Shrinks Melanoma Brain Metastases In Early Trial

Australian researchers have reported promising results with a new drug that shrinks brain tumors in advanced cases of melanoma.

AsianScientist (May 4, 2012) – Australian researchers have reported promising results with a new drug that shrinks brain tumors in advanced cases of melanoma.

In a recent issue of The Lancet, the researchers show for the first time that Dabrafenib also shrinks secondary tumors (metastases) in the brains of patients with advanced forms of the disease.

Melanoma is a malignant tumor of melanocytes – cells that are responsible for the color of our skin. In advanced cases, the tumors can spread to the liver, bones, lymph nodes, and commonly to the brain. Most patients with brain metastases die within four months.

When the team tested Dabrafenib on patients with metastatic melanoma in a Phase I dose-escalation trial, they showed that the brain tumors in nine out of ten patients shrank within the first six weeks of treatment. What was more surprising was that all ten patients survived beyond five months, and two patients survived beyond 12 months. One patient survived to 19 months.

In 50 percent of human melanomas, an activating mutation in the BRAF gene has been linked to an excessive growth of melanoma cells. Dabrafenib works by directly binding to and blocking the aberrantly activated BRAF protein. A reduction in melanoma cell proliferation causes the tumors to shrink and disappear.

According to Dr. Georgina Long, lead author of the study, there is currently no effective systemic treatment for melanoma brain metastases, and patients whose cancer has spread to the brain are frequently excluded from promising clinical trials.

“Until now, there has not been a single drug that has shrunk brain metastases in more than 10 out of 100 patients with metastatic melanoma. This drug had a 90 percent success rate in reducing the size of brain metastases,” Long said.

Dr. Long believes that their positive findings may pave the way for more targeted melanoma treatments and offer new hope for patients with metastatic melanoma worldwide.

The article can be found at: Falchook GS et al. (2012) Dabrafenib in patients with melanoma, untreated brain metastases, and other solid tumours: a phase 1 dose-escalation trial.


Source: University of Sydney.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Yuka graduated with a BSc (Hons) in life sciences from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore, and received her MSc in cancer biology at University College London, UK.

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