Pharma Strategy Blog

Commentary on Pharma & Biotech Oncology / Hematology New Product Development

Two of the most dynamic cancer markets at the moment are prostate cancer and metastatic melanoma, which is great news considering that neither has had much attention over the last decade compared to breast and lung cancers.

My colleague has posted an overview of what’s going on in advanced prostate cancer today, which you may be interested in checking out pre-ASCO.  However, what excited me this morning were announcements from BMS and Roche declaring their intent to pursue combination trials in BRAF metastatic melanoma with their therapies ipilimumab (Yervoy) and vemurafenib (PLX4032).

This is really great news, and a very logical approach that is well worth evaluating.

I’m delighted to see the two companies seeking to work together on this to see if the combination can improve outcomes further than what we have seen for vemurafenib alone, which already showed impressive responses in poor prognosis patients.

How vemurafenib works in BRAF V600E metastatic melanoma

Vemurafenib has been shown to target the BRAF V600E mutation, as you can see in the graphic.

Ipilimumab is an immunotherapy that targets the CTLA-4 antigen and was approved by the FDA in March as a treatment option for newly diagnosed patients with metastatic melanoma.

A phase I/II trial is planned initially, which is a relatively low risk study – if the results look good we will hopefully see a larger scale phase III trial emerge.  If not, at least we will know a quick answer on the combination.

Meanwhile, these two drugs will be presented in the plenary session at ASCO this weekend comparing either to the current standard of care, dacarbazine (DTIC), in advanced newly diagnosed metastatic melanoma.

I’m really looking forward to writing more on those trials on Monday morning – so do check back then for an update of the phase III data!


One Response to “BMS and Roche join forces in metastatic melanoma”

  1. Angie

    I sure wish this would get approved ASAP! My husband, just had 50th B-day shortly after being diagnosed with metastatic melanoma stage 4. We are all praying for this to get approved, he has the B-Raf mutation, and the time clock is ticking.

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