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New Melanoma Drug Sees Success

Posted: June 1, 2009

An early clinical trial shows promise for a drug that treats advanced melanomas.

An experimental drug has shown promise as a treatment for advanced melanoma, one of the deadliest of cancers, according to preliminary results from a small trial presented recently.

The oral drug, known as PLX4032, is being developed by privately-held Plexxikon Inc and Roche Holding AG. The experimental compound is designed to block a genetic mutation in a cellular pathway, known as BRAF, that occurs in up to 60% of melanomas and about 8% of all solid tumors.

In a Phase 1 trial, nine of out of 16 melanoma patients with the mutation who were treated with clinically relevant doses had tumor shrinkage of at least 30%, said Dr. Keith Flaherty, assistant professor at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania and the trial's lead investigator.

Plexxikon said larger clinical trials to support a registration program for product approval are targeted to start later this year.