In a nutshell
This study examined the effectiveness of encorafenib (Braftovi) alone or in combination with binimetinib or vemurafenib (Zelboraf) alone in BRAF-mutant melanomas. Researchers suggested that the combined treatment showed improved cancer outcomes with manageable side effects.
Some melanoma patients have a mutation (permanent change) in the BRAF gene which is associated with a poorer prognosis. The standard treatment for these patients are BRAF-inhibitor agents such as vemorafenib.
Although most patients have a positive response to the treatment, some patients become resistant to BRAF inhibitors. This happens due to the reactivation of the MAPK pathway (responsible for tumor growth). Adding an MAPK inhibitor to the treatment, such as trametinib, helps to overcome BRAF resistance.
Current BRAF-MEK inhibitors are associated with cancer progression after 12 months of treatment. Therefore, there is a need for other improved treatments to treat advanced melanoma patients. The BRAF-MEK combination encorafenib/binimetinib is one currently under investigation.
Methods & findings
The objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness and safety of the combined treatment with encorafenib and binimetinib.
577 patients with inoperable melanoma were randomised to receive this combined treatment (192), encorafenib alone (194) or vemurafenib alone (191). The average follow-up time was 16.6 months.
Patients treated with the combined treatment had a 46% improvement in the odds of a better progression-free survival when compared with vemurafenib.
The most common severe side effects noted in the combined group were an increase in certain proteins related to liver function (7-9% of patients) and high blood pressure (6%).
One death was considered possibly related to the combined treatment.
The bottom line
The combined treatment with encorafenib plus binimetinib was associated with improved melanoma outcomes with manageable negative side effects.
The fine print
This study was funded by Array BioPharma, producer of encorafenib and binimetinib.
Published By :
The Lancet. Oncology
Mar 21, 2018