Commenting on final draft guidance from NICE recommending dabrafenib for the treatment of advanced melanoma which tests positive for the BRAF V600 mutation, Professor Paul Workman, Interim Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said:
“It’s great news that NICE has given the green light to use of dabrafenib on the NHS. Its approval underlines the importance of a new generation of cancer drugs targeted at specific molecular features of tumours – drugs which after years of painstaking development are now making their way to patients. The discovery of dabrafenib was underpinned by research done here at The Institute of Cancer Research, and its approval increases the treatment options available on the NHS for patients with metastatic melanoma.
“Dabrafenib targets a specific mutation in the BRAF gene which the ICR helped discover, and which has now been linked to 50% of aggressive melanomas. Research at the ICR on the role of BRAF mutations in cancer laid the groundwork for the development of dabrafenib and another melanoma drug called vemurafenib, which was approved for use on the NHS in 2012. Having two treatments available with different side-effect profiles could increase the number of patients who gain access to targeted treatment for melanoma.
“One drawback of dabrafenib and vemurafenib is that although they are often initially very effective, cancers usually become resistant to treatment within a year. One very promising area of our research is the design of so-called panRAF inhibitors, which are intended to be effective against BRAF and other cancer mutations simultaneously. We hope that this new type of targeted drug could further expand the currently very limited treatment options for advanced melanoma.”
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