Melanoma & Skin Cancers

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Melanoma Heads Down the Genetic Pathway

The molecular profiling of melanoma is nigh. Assessment of advanced-stage, metastatic melanoma to determine whether it carries a mutation in the BRAF oncogene will turn routine soon, once physicians have the option to treat these patients with the new BRAF inhibitor drug, vemurafenib.

That might happen any day now. Reuters said on August 9  that the FDA’s approval of vemurafenib could get announced soon. Roche/Genentech submitted their NDA for vemurafenib to the FDA in May, and in June came impressive efficacy results in a phase 3 study that got reported at both ASCO and in a NEJM article.

Photo credit: Nephron/Wikimedia Commons

Malignant melanoma



Last week, I covered the American Academy of Dermatology’s summer meeting in New York, and melanoma specialist Richard D. Carvajal from Memorial Sloan-Kettering told me that once vemurafenib was on the market genetic analysis of advanced melanomas to find BRAF mutations would suddenly become standard of care. Once testing for one mutation starts, several more genes can easily piggyback onto the assay, which will help to further flesh out the range of genetic mutations that can exist in metastatic melanoma and provide potential targets for new drugs.

It’s becoming a well-trodden path that’s rapidly driving the treatment of advanced cancers of all kinds into the molecular-profiling era. Just a couple of weeks ago, I blogged


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