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New drug improves progression-free survival, shrinks tumors in rare cancer for first time
Date:6/1/2013

CHICAGO, JUNE 1, 2013 The experimental drug selumetinib is the first targeted therapy to demonstrate significant clinical benefit for patients with metastatic uveal melanoma, according to new Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center research presented on Saturday, June 1, at the 49th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

The findings are potentially practice-changing for a historically "untreatable disease." Though uveal melanoma is rare there are only 2,500 cases diagnosed in the United States each year about half of patients will develop metastatic disease, and survival for patients with advanced disease has held steady at nine months to a year for decades.

Researchers found that progression-free survival (PFS) in patients receiving selumetinib was nearly 16 weeks and 50 percent of these patients experienced tumor shrinkage, with 15 percent achieving major shrinkage. Patients receiving temozolomide, the current standard chemotherapy, had seven weeks of PFS and no tumor shrinkage. Selumetinib also lengthened overall survival to 10.8 months versus 9.4 months with temozolomide, and side effects were manageable.

"This is the first study to show that a systemic therapy provides significant clinical benefit in a randomized fashion to advanced uveal melanoma patients, who have very limited treatment options," said Richard D. Carvajal, MD, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and lead author on the study. "This clinical benefit has never been demonstrated with other conventional or investigational agents, which is all we have been able to offer patients for decades."

Dr. Carvajal and his team decided to test selumetinib because it blocks the MEK protein, a key component of the tumor-driving MAPK pathway. This pathway is activated by mutations in the Gnaq and Gna11 genes, which occur in more than 85 percent of uveal melanoma patients; 84 percent of patients in this trial had one of the mu
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Contact: Caitlin Hool
hoolc@mskcc.org
646-227-3956
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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