A phase II study suggests that a MEK inhibitor drug benefits people who have melanomas with NRAS mutations, which currently have no targeted treatments. The drug, called MEK162, shrank tumors in 20% of NRAS-mutated melanoma patients (6 out of 30). MEK162 also shrank tumors in 20% of BRAF-mutated melanoma patients (8 out of 41), as well as tumors that had spread to the brain in two patients. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gove as number NCT01320085, and is now recruiting more patients with NRAS mutations.
The London-based company, GSK has stared a phase III trial called “COMBI-AD” that will test the combination of a BRAF and MEK inhibitor, dabrafenib and trametinib in patients with BRAF V600E mutation-positive melanoma who have had surgery to remove their tumors (adjuvant setting). The placebo-controlled trial is testing how long the combo treatment can delay or prevent cancer recurrence in these high-risk patients. Two phase III combination trials are currently ongoing to test the combination versus monotherapy in metastatic BRAF-positive melanoma patients.
The European Medicines Agency has granted a speedy review of trametinib, an experimental MEK inhibitor made by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. The firm’s application for a European license includes findings from two studies of melanomas that have BRAF V600 mutations: a phase III trial comparing trametinib to two standard chemotherapy drugs (dacarbazine and paclitaxel) and a phase I/II trial comparing trametinib alone and in combination with the experimental BRAF-inhibitor dabrafenib. If approved, trametinib could be available to people with melanoma within 6 months.