Using Molecularly-Guided Therapy for Patients with BRAF wild-type (BRAFwt) Metastatic Melanoma
Yale University has launched a multi-center clinical trial using the latest in personalized medicine technology for metastatic melanoma. The trial will enroll patients lacking a particular genetic mutation for whom immune therapy did not work or was not an option.
Metastatic melanoma is a type of cancer that has spread from the skin to other parts of the body, most frequently the lungs, muscle, and liver. It is the most advanced and deadly type of melanoma and notoriously difficult to treat.
Nearly half of all patients with metastatic melanoma have an alteration to the BRAF gene, which has recently been shown to be a promising target for certain novel drugs, including some immune therapy drugs. However, for patients whose tumors lack the BRAF alteration, and for whom immunotherapy fails, there is a critical need for better options.
Patricia M. LoRusso, DO, associate director of Innovative Medicine at Yale Cancer Center and co-leader of the Stand Up To Cancer-Melanoma Research Alliance Melanoma Dream Team, said this trial uses the latest molecular sequencing techniques to best match targeted drugs to the unique genetic alterations present in tumors missing the BRAF mutation. Since every patient’s tumor is different at the genomic level, treatment may vary for each patient. The trial is designed to evaluate if using this personalized therapy approach improves outcomes over current treatments which are limited and largely ineffective.
“Melanoma is one of those cancers for which we have distressingly few treatment options, and patients with this subtype of melanoma have it even harder,” LoRusso said. “This partnership of cancer centers, research organizations, and industry offers the best chance we’ve had in long time to find solutions for melanoma patients. We think the personalized medicine approach is the way forward.”
The project is primarily funded by the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) foundations, along with additional support from the Gateway For Cancer Research foundation and is administered by SU2C's scientific partner the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Seven different pharmaceutical companies are supplying commercially-available and investigational targeted agents. Other sites around the United States are also slated to open soon.