With so many new drugs in Melanoma, it can be difficult to keep an overview.
Same drug, different names
When a new drug is first tested in a clinical trial, it usually only has an identifier- a letter combination with a number.
Once it proves useful, the substance gets a NAME.
And once that drug is approved by the regulatory authorities like EMA in Europe or FDA in US and gets commercialised, it gets a further commercial name: the one you see on the packet.
Finding relevant information about a certain drug can therefore be complicated because searches for the commercial name will not necessarily give you earlier findings- unless someone has gone through the effort to cross-reference it.
Broadly, these new Melanoma drugs fall into 2 categories: targeted therapy and immunotherapies- and both work very differently from conventional chemotherapy many tend to associated with cancer therapy.
These following WIKI-pages (links behind the drug names) contain information about the major new Melanoma drugs, including their history, how they work, when they were approved and publications relating to them.
Currently available in Melanoma for patients whose tumors carry the BRAF mutation. Drugs are small molecules coming in the form of pills that one needs to take daily and that specifically block the mutated protein- so they only work for these patients.
In the future, there will hopefully also be other targeted therapies for patients with BRAF wild-type, NRAS- or c-KIT mutated Melanoma available.
Combining a BRAF inhibitor with a MEK inhibitor has been shown to increase the effect on the signalling pathway the Melanoma crucially depends on by providing a double road-block instead of a single one.
VEMURAFENIB , marketed as Zelboraf.
DABRAFENIB, marketed as Taflinar.
TRAMETINIB, marketed as Mekinist.
COBIMETINIB, marketed as Cotellic.
Immune therapies use the bodies own immune system to flight Melanoma. Watch the video for a good explanation and an overview of common side effects.
Normally, our immune system has in-built 'brakes' to prevent over-shooting immune activity (which would become an auto-immune disease). Checkpoint inhibitors block specific 'brakes' in the immune system- so the body continues to attack the Melanoma.
Checkpoint inhibitors are antibodies requiring a perfusion every 2 or 3 weeks. There are a number of different schemes, some with an induction and/ or maintenance.
IPILIMUMAB, marketed as Yervoy.
PEMBROLIZUMAB, marketed as Keytruda.
NIVOLUMAB, marketed as Opdivo.
A modified Herpes virus that gets injected into the tumour and helps the body to recognise and attack the Melanoma. Marketed as Imlygic.
Further- these are therapies that are currently tested but not approved yet, will get finished when I find the time-
- Immuntherapies using T-cells or dendritic cells from the patients' own body.
- Local injections into tumors with different substances in order to stimulate an immune-response.
last updated 11th June 2017 BR
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The latest developments
in Melanoma therapies
Considering how fast Melanoma therapies- thankfully- move, Melanoma therapy websites are easily out of date.
For this reason, this page is only intended for basic information on the different therapies. We post and discuss the latest developments in active forums:
Join our MPNE facebook group to keep up to date and to discuss about the latest therapies- questions are always welcome. Please note this a closed group for Melanoma patients and advocates only.
The MELANOMA Pathway
containing BRAF and MEK: the MAP- Kinase Pathway
detailed but not easy