Australians Have Announced A Breakthrough New Treatment For Advanced Melanoma

Bondi sun. Renee McKay/Getty Images

A breakthrough global clinical trial for people with advanced melanoma has established a new treatment for the deadly skin cancer.

The study shows a combination of two drugs targeting different parts of the melanoma works better than either alone to stop the growth of disease.

The results of the clinical trial involving 495 patients with BRAF-positive melanoma from 20 countries was presented by Professor Grant McArthur from Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre at the European Society for Medical Oncology’s 2014 Congress in Madrid, Spain.

The research, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, is an important step forward in understanding the mechanisms of targeted melanoma therapies.

Professor McArthur says the drugs, vemurafenib and cobimetinib, work together to attack the melanoma in two places.

He’s seen many patients gain extra months and years of high-quality life while taking just vemurafenib but usually the melanoma takes an alternative path and kickstarts the growth of disease.

“With these results we’ve found a way of circumventing an evasive tactic employed by the cancer to resist the effects of vemurafenib leading to an extension in progression-free survival that is incredibly important for these patients,” he says.

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