Skin cancer drug combination benefits patients in trial
14 Jul 2014
An experimental drug, combined with an existing treatment in skin cancer patients in a clinical trial, prolonged their survival without disease progression.
Targeted combination treatment for BRAF mutation
Cobimetinib, which is being developed by Roche in collaboration with Exelixis Inc, is designed to be used with another Roche drug called Zelboraf for patients with tumors that have a mutation in a gene known as BRAF that allows melanoma cells to grow.
About half of all melanomas have the genetic aberration the drugs target.
Phase 3 study showed improved results by combining drugs
Results of a Phase 3 study involving 495 patients previously untreated for advanced melanoma found those taking both drugs lived significantly longer without their disease worsening compared to those taking Zelboraf alone.
Roche plans to present the results at an upcoming medical meeting and said it would file the data for approval with health regulators worldwide.
Melanoma globally afflicts more than 232,000 new people each year. While generally curable if caught early, it is one of the deadliest cancers in its advanced stages and there are few treatment options.
Cobimetinib works by blocking the activity of a protein called MEK, while Zelboraf - which is already approved in more than 80 countries - binds to the mutant protein BRAF.
Roche is also investigating cobimetinib in combination with other experimental medicines, including an immunotherapy for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer.