A drug, in a clinical trial, has prolonged the lives of advanced melanoma patients. The new medication will potentially add to an increasing number of different therapies for the once nearly untreatable cancer.
Trametinib is the new drug from GlaxoSmith Kline. The medication also kept melanoma from getting worse, longer than the common chemotherapy treatment did. Melanoma, if detected early is usually curable by removing surgically the lesion on the skin. However, it has been very difficult to treat after it spreads elsewhere to the body. However, last year two new drugs were introduced that prolonged the lives of very ill patients and received approval from regulators.
Yervoy was one and is from Bristol-Myers Squibb and it helps the immune system attack the cancer better. Zelboraf, the other is from Daiichi Sankyo and Roche and it blocks the effect from a mutation in the BRAF gene. The mutation is present in nearly 50% of the cases of melanoma and helps to spur on growth in tumors.
The trial that included trametinib was sponsored by the pharmaceutical giant Glaxo and took place in 2011. It included 322 patients who had advanced and or metastatic melanoma. The participants received either trametinib or one of two different chemo medications.
The average time before a worsening of the disease took place was nearly 5 months for the trametinib takers and only one and a half months for those using chemotherapy. After a six-month period, 81% of the trametinib users were still alive, while 67% of the chemo users were still alive.