A combination of three drugs has been proven as a new effective therapy to fight a type of melanoma (tumor of the pigment cells) without causing debilitating side effects, announced a report published Thursday.
Research developed by the Department of Health Sciences at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) offers a longer life option for patients with a type of skin cancer who have a potent genetic mutation known as BRAF V600E.
The research found that the simultaneous use of three drugs resulted in a longer life for patients with this type of melanoma, as well as a brake on the spread of cancer.
“Using the three drugs together sensitized the patients’ autoimmune system, increasing the power of immunotherapy and blocking the growth of two genes – BRAF and MEK – that cause cancer cells to reproduce and grow out of control,” Antoni Ribas explained. Senior author of the report and professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
These three drugs with two inhibitors that block BRAF and another immunological control.
Ribas noted that approximately 7,000 people die from this type of cancer each year and about half of those diagnosed with melanoma metastases have the BRAF mutation.
In phase 1 of the research, the scientists tested the combination of the three drugs in 15 people with skin cancer who had the BRAF metastasis mutation.
In 11 of the patients treated, the tumors were reduced and remained stable and without growth between 12 and 27 months, according to the report published today in the specialized journal Nature Medicine.
Phase 2 included 120 people in 22 centers around the world, half of whom received the combination of the three drugs, while the other half received two BRAF inhibiting drugs and a placebo.
In this phase, the tumors stopped their growth an average of 16 months in the patients who received the combination of the three drugs, compared to 10.2 months of those who received the two drugs and a placebo.
“With this triple combination, we are achieving two things at the same time: Using the two inhibitors to block cancer expansion and stimulate the immune system,” Ribas noted.
Previous studies had used different combinations of only two inhibitors, which had not produced favorable results.
Approximately 94,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year, said Ribas, also director of the Tumor Immunology Program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA.
Ribas, a Spanish who traveled to California 13 years ago to learn about gene therapy with Dr. James Economou, a leader in the field, is currently an associate professor of hematology / oncology and researcher.
According to the UCLA website, his research focuses on understanding how the immune system can be used effectively to treat cancer. (EFEUSA) .-