NEW YORK – American scientists have developed, what is being hailed as a “simply spectacular” treatment for skin cancer that could shrink the tumours at a “rapid and dramatic” rate in patients whose disease had spread.
The results of the drug trial are significant because skin cancer, though curable when caught early, usually become fatal when it spreads to other parts of the body.
Experts described the results as “simply spectacular” and said the drug, known at the moment only as PLX4032, could improve and extend the lives of those fighting the disease.
It is already known that around half of all malignant melanomas are fuelled by a mutation in a gene, known as Braf.
And now, for the first time, scientists have developed a drug that can interfere with this gene’s protein, cutting off the fuel supply to the tumours.
The small study, conducted on 31 patients showed that patients treated with the twice-a-day pill saw their tumours shrink rapidly and a larger trial is now needed to confirm the findings.
But the results showed that in two thirds of the 22 patients evaluated, the tumours shrank by 30 per cent in only a month.
A further six patients also saw their tumours shrink, but not by as much.
Cancer experts are excited by the findings because it means that PLX4032 could also work in other cancers triggered by the Braf mutation, which includes around five per cent of bowel cancers, accounting for 1,500 new cases a year.
In addition the drug also offers hope to the thousands of skin cancer patients who have very few treatment options once their tumours have spread.
However, experts admit the drug will not cure metastatic melanoma.
“We are very excited. So far 70 per cent of patients have responded,” The Daily Express quoted