Combine immunotherapy and targeted treatment to fight melanoma

18 Mar 2015

Results of a new study by UCLA researchers has found that a groundbreaking new triple combination therapy shows promising signs of more effectively controlling advanced melanoma than previous BRAF + MEK inhibitor or BRAF inhibitor + immunotherapy combos alone, and with increased immune response and fewer side effects.

A BRAF mutation is a mutated protein, which in most cases allows melanoma to eventually build up a resistance to many drug therapies.

Powerful combination of targeted therapies

In the new study led by UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center member Dr. Antoni Ribas and colleague Dr. Siwen Hu-Lieskovan, UCLA scientists combined targeted therapies utilizing a BRAF inhibitor (dabrafenib) and MEK inhibitor (trametinib) with immunotherapy. The three together are shown to be more effective treatments by sensitizing the patients' own immune system to enhance immunotherapy, and reduce the probability of the melanoma eventually developing resistance.

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This is a significant advance compared to previous drug combination findings, in which a combined BRAF inhibitor (vemurafenib) with immunotherapy (ipilimumab) caused serious liver toxicity in some patients, and the targeted therapies (BRAF and/or MEK inhibitors) became less effective and reactivated cancer cell growth.

Boosting immunotherapy with less side effects and toxicity

"The two drug combination of BRAF and MEK inhibitors works synergistically and decreases the side effects of the BRAF inhibitor or normal cells. We reasoned that this combo would allow us to synergize with immunotherapy without increasing toxicities," said Ribas, a professor of hematology and oncology.

According to Hu-Lieskovan, a UCLA clinical instructor of hematology and oncology, the triple combination of targeted therapies BRAF (dabrafinib) and MEK (trametinib) inhibitors with immunotherapy makes immune therapy more effective at killing cancerous tumors and causes less toxicity.

Ribas and Hu-Lieskovan have opened two clinical trials to test the effectiveness of the triple combination therapy in advanced melanoma patients.

 

Source: Science Daily
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