With so many new drugs in Melanoma, it can be difficult to keep an overview, especially as what effectively is the same drug runs under 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 given 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.
These following WIKI-pages contain information about the major new Melanoma drugs, including their history, how they work, when they were approved and publications relating to them. 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.
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.
Antibody-based immune therapies use the bodies own immune system to flight Melanoma. They are antibodies requiring a perfusion every 2 or 3 weeks and there are a number of different schemes, some with an induction and/ or maintenance.
Normally, our immune system has in-built 'brakes' to prevent over-shooting immune activity (which would become an auto-immune disease). These immune therapies block specific brakes- after which the body continues to attack the Melanoma.
IPILIMUMAB, marketed as Yervoy.
PEMBROLIZUMAB, marketed as Keytruda.
NIVOLUMAB, marketed as Opdivo.
Further- 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.
Please note, this page is work in progress, please let me know if you find good resources- explanations worth adding here!
last updated 25th May 2015 BR
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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.