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Reporter: Ziv Raviv, PhD

FDA Approves BioMerieux’s BRAF Test as CDx, www.genomeweb.com

The FDA has very recently (May 29, 2013) approved two new drugs to treat unresectable and metastatic melanoma. Both drugs are inhibitors of B-Raf which is frequently mutated in melanoma (1). The new drugs are products of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK): Dabrafenib (marked as Tafinlar), a B-Raf inhibitor aimed to treat melanoma patients harboring V600E mutation (2), and Trametinib (marked as Mekinist), a MEK inhibitor that was shown in phase III clinical trials to be efficient for treating melanoma patients with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations (3). Both drugs are given orally and approved as single agents. About 75,000 new cases of melanoma are being diagnosed in the US and above 9,000 people die from the disease, each year. Until recently metastatic melanoma was considered an incurable disease with very poor prognosis and limited survival rates. These new two drugs are now joining the first two drugs approved in 2011 to treat metastatic melanoma that are already in clinical use – vemurafenib (Zelboraf) which is also a B-Raf inhibitor (4), and ipilimumab (Yervoy). The introduction of the two drugs was co-approved in concert with the THxID BRAF test from BioMérieux. This PCR-based BRAF test is designed to determine whether a melanoma patient harbors the V600E or V600K BRAF gene mutation and will assist directing the correct treatment to be given to patients. This BRAF mutation test is the second companion diagnostic approved for BRAF mutation detection following the approval of Roche’s cobas 4800 BRAF V600 Mutation Test in August 2011. Overall, the association of diagnostics with treatments as approved in this case is another step further in the ongoing efforts invested by pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies toward establishing personalized medicine to treat cancer patients.

Resources:

FDA press release

GenomeWeb report

References

  1. Mutations of the BRAF gene in human cancer. Davies H et al. Nature. 2002 Jun 27;417(6892):949-54.
  2. Dabrafenib in BRAF-mutated metastatic melanoma: a multicentre, open-label, phase 3 randomized controlled trial. Hauschild A et al. Lancet. 2012 Jul 28;380(9839):358-65.
  3. Improved survival with MEK inhibition in BRAF-mutated melanoma. Flaherty KT et al. N Engl J Med. 2012 Jul 12;367(2):107-14
  4. Improved Survival with Vemurafenib in Melanoma with BRAF V600E Mutation. Chapman PB et al. N Engl J Med. 2011 Jun 30;364(26):2507-16

Related articles on this Open Access Online Scientific Journal

  1. Whole exome somatic mutations analysis of malignant melanoma contributes to the development of personalized cancer therapy for this disease. Author: Ziv Raviv PhD
  2. In focus: Melanoma Genetics. Curator: Ritu Saxena, PhD
  3. In focus: Melanoma therapeutics. Author and Curator: Ritu Saxena, PhD
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