New targeted therapy schedule could keep melanoma at bay

Source: EurekAlert, April 2018

Skin melanoma, a particularly insidious cancer, accounts for the vast majority skin cancer deaths and is one of the most common cancers in people under 30. Treatment for advanced melanoma has seen success with targeted therapies – drugs that interfere with division and growth of cancer cells by targeting key molecules – especially when multiple drugs are used in combination. While the combination of targeted therapies improves patient outcomes, any remaining cancer cells can lead to drug resistance. Recently research published in Cancer Discovery showed that changing the schedules of drug administration can improve outcomes leading to more complete responses in mouse models of the disease.
“We are looking to optimize the combinations of targeted therapies and the scheduling of those therapies so we can improve tumor shrinkage and minimize potential toxicities for a patient,” said Andrew Aplin, PhD, Associate Director for Basic Research and the Program Leader for Cancer Cell Biology and Signaling (CCBS) in the NCI-designated Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health.
Dr. Aplin and Jessica Teh, PhD, his senior postdoctoral researcher at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University), examined the effects of a combination of two FDA-approved targeted agents on human melanomas grafted onto mice. While one drug, MEK inhibitor, is usually used in advanced-stage melanoma, the other drug, CDK4/6 inhibitor, palbociclib, is currently FDA-approved for treatment of Estrogen Receptor-positive breast cancer patients. While MEK inhibitors are part of treatment protocols for melanoma, palbociclib is entering clinical trials for use in melanoma populations.
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