Melanoma: New Drugs and New Challenges (Part 2 of 2)


Editor’s note: This is part 2 of a 2-part post on the latest research in melanoma. To learn about research into drug combinations for melanoma that may work better than single drugs, check out Melanoma: New Drugs and New Challenges (Part 1 of 2).

As always, the more new treatments become available in melanoma, the more new challenges arise. With eight new drugs approved for melanoma in the last five years, oncologists may sometimes face the difficult choice of what drugs to choose for a patient’s first-line treatment. Immune checkpoint drugs sometimes cause serious side effects, but progress is being made on how to treat these and also how to treat patients with pre-existing autoimmune conditions. New approaches are needed in efforts to prevent recurrence of melanomas diagnosed at earlier stages of disease progression. These and other challenges are discussed below. Continue reading…


Final OS Analysis Confirms Cobimetinib/Vemurafenib Benefit in Melanoma

Excerpt:

“Combination therapy with cobimetinib (Cotellic) and vemurafenib (Zelboraf) reduced the risk of death by 30% compared with vemurafenib alone in patients with BRAF-positive advanced melanoma, according to the final survival analysis of the phase III coBRIM study that has now been published in The Lancet Oncology.

“The targeted combination improved median overall survival (OS) by 4.9 months versus single-agent vemurafenib (HR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.55-0.90; P = .005). The OS rates for the combination at 1 and 2 years were 74.5% and 48.3%, respectively.

“ ‘Melanoma is one of the few cancers that has increased in incidence over the past 30 years, and until recently, people with advanced forms of the disease have had few treatment options. Five years ago, the survival of people with advanced melanoma was measured in months, and now we have medicines that are helping people live years,’ Josina Reddy, MD, PhD, senior group medical director at Genentech, the company that manufactures the combination, said in an interview with OncLive.”

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Melanoma: New Drugs and New Challenges (Part 1 of 2)


New targeted and immunotherapy drugs have changed the diagnosis of metastatic melanoma from a death sentence into a disease that can potentially be managed and even cured. Nevertheless, these new drugs do not work in all patients, or they may stop working after a transient response. This post (part one of two) will describe ongoing efforts to find drug combinations with higher efficacy than single drugs and decipher the mechanisms underlying drug resistance. Continue reading…


3-Year Follow-Up Data for Dabrafenib/Trametinib Confirm Results of Combo in Melanoma

Excerpt:

“Three-year follow-up data from the phase III COMBI-d study was presented at the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting, revealing impressive overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) data for the dabrafenib (Tafinlar) and trametinib (Mekinist) combination therapy for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma.

“At the February 15, 2016 data cutoff for the 3-year analysis, 58% of patients remained on therapy. The 3-year PFS rate with the combination was 22% versus 12% with single-agent dabrafenib. The 3-year OS rate was 44% with dabrafenib plus trametinib compared with 32% with dabrafenib alone.

” ‘This is the longest OS follow-up among randomized phase III trials evaluating a BRAF plus MEK inhibitor in patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma,’ said lead investigator Keith T. Flaherty, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. ‘With additional follow-up, and now 3-year maturity, dabrafenib plus trametinib continued to show significant benefit over dabrafenib monotherapy, despite crossover.’ ”

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Dabrafenib Active in BRAF-Mutant Metastatic NSCLC

Excerpt:

“Planchard et al found that the BRAF kinase inhibitor dabrafenib (Tafinlar) produced responses in previously treated and untreated patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to a phase II trial reported in The Lancet Oncology. Activating BRAF V600E mutations are found in approximately 1% to 2% of lung adenocarcinomas.”

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Do you have questions about this story? Let us know in a comment below. If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Ask Cancer Commons service.


Opdivo Plus Yervoy Gets FDA OK for Melanoma

“Indications for the blockbuster cancer drug nivolumab (Opdivo) have expanded again, as the FDA has approved the anti-PD-1 antibody in combination with ipilimumab (Yervoy) for treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

“The indication includes both BRAF-wild type and BRAF-mutant melanoma. At the same time, the FDA expanded the indication for single-agent nivolumb to include patients with previously untreated BRAF-wild type melanoma.

“Granted by the FDA’s accelerated approval process, the indication is the seventh for nivolumab, both indications leave the door open for the FDA to request confirmatory data or clinical trials. The approvals increase the number of nivolumab indications to seven, including four in melanoma, all granted since late 2014.”


Experts Grapple With Nuances of Navigating New Frontier in Melanoma

“Emerging data showing improved survival with targeted and immunotherapeutic approaches are rapidly altering the standard of care for patients with melanoma. For BRAF-positive patients with metastatic or unresectable melanoma, the standard of care includes a BRAF inhibitor in combination with a MEK inhibitor. For patients with or without BRAF mutations, there are immunotherapeutic options available in frontline and in resistant disease settings.

“Questions remain, however, in terms of how to optimally sequence and/or combine both targeted agents and immunotherapies. And, for BRAF-mutant disease, when is it appropriate to switch from a targeted approach to an immunotherapeutic one?”


Video: Dr. Omid Hamid on Vemurafenib and Atezolizumab in Melanoma

“Omid Hamid, MD, Chief, Translational Research and Immunotherapy, Director, Melanoma Therapeutics, The Angeles Clinic, discusses a recent trial investigating the combination of vemurafenib and atezolizumab in melanoma in patients with previously untreated BRAF-positive unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

“The targeted therapy vemurafenib has a great initial response rate and palliative benefit, but does not have long-term durability. Atezolizumab, an immunotherapy, has a low initial response rate, but has the ability to have a high long-term durability, says Hamid.

“With the combination, the toxicities of elevated liver enzymes and rash were initially seen, however the regimen became more tolerable after it was adjusted, says Hamid.”

Click through to watch the video.


FDA Delays Decision for Frontline Nivolumab

“The review period for frontline nivolumab (Opdivo), in patients who have advanced melanoma, recently received an extension of 3 months by the FDA, in order to allow ample time for review of the additional data submitted by Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). The updated action date for the new indication is November 27, 2015.

“Nivolumab initially received a priority review designation for the new indication on April 30, 2015, based on the phase III CheckMate-066 trial that explored nivolumab in untreated patients with BRAF wild-type advanced melanoma. The new data hope to support an approval that is irrespective of BRAF status, BMS indicated.

“ ‘The CheckMate-066 trial marked the first time that a PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor showed a survival benefit in a randomized phase III trial,’ Michael Giordano, MD, senior vice president, Head of Development, Oncology, BMS, said when the FDA initially accepted the application. ‘We look forward to continuing to work with the FDA to ensure cancer patients are provided the latest clinical advances that have the potential for improved responses and long-term survival.’ “