Roche breakthrough skin cancer drug shows promise

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Advanced melanoma is one of the deadliest cancer forms and spreads from one part of the body to another.  Advanced melanoma kills more than 40,000 people every year and the number of people with melanoma in developed countries is predicted to double over the next decade to around 227,000 new cases every year according to a Datamonitor report. Recently Swiss drug giant Roche Holding AG announced a breakthrough development in the treatment of deadliest form of skin cancer.

Roche has developed new skin-cancer drug, called RG7204 that could help patients with advanced forms of the disease. The late stage clinical trial which was conducted at The Royal Marsden hospital in London and Surrey showed that new drug stalled growth of the most deadly form of skin cancer and increased overall survival when compared to current treatments.

Researchers said there has been little or no progress in devising new drugs for these patients since the 1970s.

About the Drug
RG7204 is a novel drug compound that targets a specific part in the cell, which is considered to be causing cancer in half of the patients who suffer from metastatic melanoma tumors. The drug subdues activity of the mutated gene, called BRAF protein, and thereby shrinks the tumors.

“This is an incredibly exciting breakthrough,” said Dr. James Larkin, who led the study. “With growing incidence of melanoma in younger people, the results of this trial of very encouraging.”

Larkin hopes that the drug will become available to the public by 2012.  Analysts believe RG7204 could reach blockbuster status if it comes to market, generating peak annual sales of $1 billion or...



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Results of the findings
Researchers found that participants in the study who received RG7204 lived longer and also lived longer without their disease getting worse, compared with participants who received dacarbazine, the current standard of care. Also the size of their tumors had shrunk by 80%, which was rare and significant improvement.

Though, the drug provides significant survival benefits in metastatic melanoma but to get the approval from Food and Drug Administration (FDA), company has to prove safety of  the drug.  The major side effects include cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, rash, photosensitivity, joint pain, hair loss and fatigue.

The new drug RG7204 looks certainly a breakthrough drug for the treatment of advanced stage of skin cancer. However, side effects can be of concern for FDA that can topple the approval process. Well! If approved, I am sure medical fraternity will reap benefits of the drug in treating the advanced melanoma stage.

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