Two new drugs using very different scientific approaches can extend survival among patients with the deadliest form of skin cancer, offering the first new hope for real progress in many years.
Advanced melanoma patients taking an experimental pill, vemurafenib, developed by Roche and Daiichi Sankyo were 63 percent less likely to die than patients given chemotherapy, according to a new trial presented on Sunday at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, says Reuters.
"This news about vemurafenib is the latest in a positive year for melanoma research, and a significant milestone," said Suzanne Topalian, chief science officer of the Melanoma Research Alliance and director of the melanoma program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "The results also show that targeting a specific genetic mutation in melanoma holds great promise as a therapeutic approach", according to Washington Post.
The chief drawback of the drugs is cost. Yervoy, manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb, costs $120,000 for a course of treatment. Roche and Plexxikon Inc., a biotechnology company in Berkeley that developed vemurafenib, are expected to apply to the FDA shortly for approval to market the drug but have not yet announced a price, informs Los Angeles Times.